Online conference addresses black lung disease in coal country
WHITESBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – Leading experts say the rates of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), more commonly known as “black lung disease,” are at their highest level in decades.
While some efforts, such as the extensions to the Black Lung Excise Tax have helped, many are calling for long-term solutions.
To illustrate this, the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, a nonprofit law firm in Whitesburg, Kentucky, organized an online conference Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
Experts, advocates and coal miners discussed some of the assistance programs for people with black lung disease, possible solutions and challenges people who have the disease face daily.
“Just the little stuff I used to could do. I’d like to be able to do stuff with my grandson. I can’t even do that because I ain’t got the wind to do it,” said conference participant Gary Harrison, president of the National Black Lung Association.
The permissible exposure limit to silica dust, a large contributor to the disease, is twice as high for coal miners than any other industry, according to experts.
The Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center has submitted a petition to create a rule protecting coal miners.
Health experts say black lung disease occurs when coal dust is inhaled. Over time, continued exposure to the coal dust causes scarring in the lungs, impairing the ability to breathe. Considered an occupational lung disease, it is most common among coal miners.