“The first priority and concern of all in the coal or mining industry must be the health and safety of our most precious resource, the miner.”

(Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, amended 1977)

The NIOSH Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP) studies the causes and effects of respiratory diseases related to coal mine dust exposure and provides vital health information to coal miners through health screenings and surveillance.

The CWHSP was established by the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (amended in 1997)external icon to prevent early coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung, from progressing to a disabling disease. As required by this act and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) rule for respirable coal mine dust exposureexternal icon, the program offers periodic lung function testing (called spirometry), respiratory health assessment questionnaires, and extended health surveillance for surface, underground, and contract coal miners.

Mobile screening van with line of people out front

2020 Black Lung Screenings

Special Notice

Coal Miners:

Black lung and other chronic lung diseases associated with coal mining put you at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Take protecting yourself seriously. If you have a pre-existing condition, such as black lung, or any lung disease, or if you smoke, it is very important that you follow the guidance provided by the CDC for stopping the spread and reducing your risk of COVID-19. This includes:

  • Stay home if possible
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet or about two arms length) with people as much as possible
  • Wear a cloth face cover over your mouth and nose, if possible, when around others
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

Mining operators and contractors:

The Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program is currently not operating at full capacity. Many facilities performing spirometry and x-rays have closed. It is important for those at increased risk for serious disease, such as coal miners with lung disease or other chronic health conditions, to engage in social distancing. As a result, we recommend that mining operators and contractors suspend all miner (new and current) surveillance testing, regardless of open testing period dates, until further notice.

Page last reviewed: February 19, 2020