Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (ECWHSP)

The Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (ECWHSP) was developed in collaboration with the Mine Safety and Health AdministrationExternal (MSHA) to investigate the trends of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), sometimes referred to as “Black Lung Disease.” The program is staffed by NIOSH personnel.

Among long-term underground miners that participated in chest x-ray screening, the prevalence of CWP decreased from the 1970s to the 1990s. However, since 1999, the prevalence of CWP among U.S. coal miners is increasing in mines of all sizes, and the more serious advanced disease of Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF) is much more prevalent among miners from underground mines with fewer than 50 workers.

Program initiatives include:

  • Ongoing miner surveys that include work histories
  • Spirometry testing
  • Radiographic examinations that are gathered in a specially designed mobile examination unit by trained personnel
  • A data query system, and
  • Development of a video on CWP.

“Faces of Black Lung” video

As part of the program, NIOSH produced the video, “Faces of Black Lung”, as a way to increase participation in the CWHSP, ECWHSP, and other activities directed at preventing the health effects of Black Lung. The goal of the video is to inform the public about the devastating health effects of the disease. A “personal face” has been put on the disease through this video, which consists of unscripted personal interviews with miners that had advanced black lung disease, along with information about the NIOSH Programs. Members of the medical staff that treat miners, currently employed coal miners, coal operators, and medical personnel, as well as others interested in the health of coal miners, will learn more about this disease and will hopefully be motivated to participate in activities aimed at preventing it.

Data Query System

A Data Query System for the The Coal Workers Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP) has been developed to produce tables and maps using an interactive system. The query system generates tables by Disease Severity Level and Disease Severity Prevalence by demographic and geographical criteria for the total number of underground miners that participated in the CWHSP programs.

Mobile X-Ray Unit

NIOSH offers mobile screening to coal miners at no cost in coal-mining states in the U.S.

The screenings include a work history questionnaire, a chest radiograph, a respiratory assessment questionnaire, and spirometry testing. Blood pressure screening is also conducted. Typically, the process takes about 30 minutes. NIOSH provides the individual miner with the results of their own screening. By law, each person’s results are confidential. No individual information is publicly disclosed.

Page last reviewed: May 4, 2018