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Epidemiological evidence on smoking, dust exposure, and lung disease in coal miners.

Proceedings of the 18th Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 25-27, 1987. Faulkner G, Sutherland WH, Forshey DR, Lucas JR, eds., Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1987 Aug; :89-98
Coal miners are known to experience various adverse effects from breathing coal mine dust, including pneumoconiosis, reduced ventilatory function, and increased respiratory symptoms. They as do all other groups of workers, suffer from the deleterious effects of smoking. Thus, those who experience high levels of dust and who also smoke are in double jeopardy from the combined insults to their respiratory systems. A question that occasionally gets asked relates to the possible interactive nature of these two respiratory hazards. In particular, Bundy asked whether the chance of developing pneumoconiosis was affected by the smoking status of the miner. Similar questions can be posed about the decline in FEV1 with dust exposure in smokers and non-smokers, and trends in symptom prevalences. In essence, these questions relate to the potentially synergistic nature of the combined effects of dust exposure and smoking. Some answers to these questions do exist, but they are scattered in the literature, or have not been published. The intention of this report is to bring together information on these topics from various sources, so as to explore the question of the mutual effects of coal mine work and smoking, with the primary intention of determining whether miners who smoke are at additional risk of lung disease, due to the simple additive effects of occupation and smoking. The results presented here are from two large studies: the Pneumoconiosis Field Research, which deals with British miners; and the National study of Coalworkers' Pneumoconiosis, which is a study of U.S. coal miners: Three main topics will be covered, including evidence on small and large opacities, respiratory symptoms, and ventilatory function as measured by the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1). The section on radiological abnormalities will deal first with small rounded opacities. In this, the role of phlegm production in the deposition of dust in the airways will be touched upon. As interest in the relationship between small, irregular opacities and dust exposure has been shown recently, this topic is also reviewed. Lastly in this section, the limited evidence on smoking and PMF development is discussed. Apart from radiological abnormalities, there are two other measures of respiratory health for which evidence of relationships with dust exposure exist. These are respiratory symptoms and ventilatory function (most commonly, FEV1). The second section in this report deals with symptoms of chronic bronchitis as defined by persistent cough and phlegm. Finally, attention is given to the problem of the association between FEV1 and dust exposure in the presence or absence of smoking.
Mine-workers; Mineral-processing; Miners; Mining-industry; Coal-miners; Coal-mining; Coal-workers; Underground-miners; Underground-mining; Dust-particles; Coal-dust; Dust-exposure; Dust-inhalation; Coal-workers-pneumoconiosis; Pneumoconiosis; Pulmonary-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-limits
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Faulkner-G; Sutherland-WH; Forshey-DR; Lucas-JR
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Proceedings of the 18th Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 25-27, 1987
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division