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The National Coal Workers' Autopsy Study.

Green-FHY; Althouse-R; Vallyathan-V; Shores-S
Proceedings of the Coal Mine Dust Conference, Morgantown, West Virginia, October 8-10, 1984. Peng, SS, ed., Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University, 1984 Oct; :175-177
The NCWAS is a unique autopsy program in that participation is voluntary. It therefore does not suffer from a bias seen in autopsy programs in other countries (e.g. the United Kingdom) where inclusion is limited to cases receiving compensation. Moreover, our findings indicate no major shifts in trends of reporting ancillary data. The results of the autopsy are confidential: unless release is approved by the next of kin. Requirements for submission to the program have been published or can be obtained directly from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NCWAS, 944 Chestnut Ridge Road, Morgantown, WV 26505. An acceptable case includes a completed consent, release and history form, an autopsy report, and a minimum of three blocks and slides of lung tissue. A recent chest roentgenograph is an optional requirement. The case has to be submitted within 180 days of performing the autopsy. The federal government will reimburse the participating pathologist up to $200, with the certification that no payment has been made by the decedent's family or estate. Analysis of the data through 1980 indicates that in this population the mortality from pneumoconiosis is relatively low (4%). Whilst mortality is low, the estimated prevalence (based on a 12% sample) of CWP is high (64%). This high prevalence in an older workforce (mean x=62 yrs) with long work tenure (mean x=26 yrs) is not unexpected as it largely reflects high exposures received before the introduction of the respirable coal dust standard of 3 mg/m3 in 1970 with further reduction to 2mg/m3 in 1973. It is therefore likely that mortality and morbidity from CWP will decrease in future decades and the NCWAS program will serve a valuable role in monitoring these changes. An important finding in this study is the relatively high estimated prevalence of silicosis. This indicates that United States miners have been receiving biologically significant concentrations of silica dust in the underground mining environment. Based on these findings NIOSH is initiating environmental, epidemiologic, and toxicologic studies into the effects of silica exposure in coal mines.
Mining-industry; Coal-workers-pneumoconiosis; Respiratory-system-disorders; Epidemiology; Statistical-analysis; Silicosis
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Proceedings of the Coal Mine Dust Conference, Morgantown, West Virginia, October 8-10, 1984
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division