University of Illinois to Further Research on Coal Dust, Black Lung Disease

Jul 8, 2019

Credit Department of Labor

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have received a grant to learn more about the ways coal dust affects pulmonary health. 

The project aims to improve what experts know about coal mining safety and the dust coal miners breathe while working. Although it’s known that coal dust is toxic, there’s not actually a lot of research about the different types of dust, how they interact and how they cause lung disease.

Researchers will scientifically examine the composition of dust types. Then they’ll expose dust combinations to mice to determine whether a specific mixture is particularly damaging to lungs.

A 2018 NPR investigation found black lung disease continues to be a big problem for coal miners, despite federal regulations meant to cap their exposure to dust. 

The research will be funded with a  with  $750,000 grant from the Alpha Foundation for the Improvement of Mining Safety and Health. 

The Alpha Foundation was formed following a 2010 coal mine explosion.   Alpha entered an agreement with state and U.S. officials to establish a $48 million trust for projects to improve miner safety.