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Coal workers' pneumoconiosis prevalence disparity between Australia and the United States.

Joy GJ; Colinet JF; Landen DD
2011 SME Annual Meeting, February 27 - March 2, Denver, Colorado, Preprint 11-062. Englewood, CO: Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc., 2011 Feb; :1-5
Although rates of pneumoconiosis in coal miners have declined substantially in the United States since the passage of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, new cases continue to occur, including cases of rapidly progressive disease. In contrast, Australia's underground coal mining industry has reported few new cases of pneumoconiosis for over twenty years. Mortality from Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis in official health statistics and the prevalence of pneumoconiosis among miners screened in x-ray surveillance programs are also lower in Australia. To understand this disparity, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was requested by both industry and labor stakeholders to examine this issue, with the ultimate aim of reducing the rate of pneumoconiosis among United States coal miners. A number of factors, including coal dust exposure, silica exposure, and coal rank were examined as potential contributors to the above observed differences. Comparison of coal rank data from each country did not show any significant differences. Air sample data from the coal mining industries in both countries show that coal dust levels in Australian mines are somewhat higher than those reported in similar U.S. mines; however, quartz exposure for Australian miners is lower than for many U.S. miners. Assuming that quartz is contributing to the greater number of cases of advanced pneumoconiosis in the U.S., more effective dust control measures, as well an independent exposure standard for respirable quartz in coal mining, need to be implemented to prevent this potentially disabling condition.
Pneumoconiosis; Coal-miners; Underground-mining; Underground-miners; Mine-workers; Lung; Lung-disease; Lung-disorders; Lung-fibrosis; Lung-function; Lung-tissue; Mortality-rates; Morbidity-rates; Dust-exposure; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Silica-dusts; Quartz-dust
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NIOSH Division
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2011 SME Annual Meeting, February 27 - March 2, Denver, Colorado, Preprint 11-062
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division