Black Lung

Across Appalachia, coal miners are suffering from the most serious form of the deadly mining disease black lung in numbers more than 10 times what federal regulators report, an NPR investigation has found.

The government, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reported 99 cases of "complicated" black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, throughout the country the last five years.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

The second phase of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administrations landmark rule that’s meant to prevent black lung disease, took effect this month. Among other requirements for companies, coal miners basically will be required to wear personal dust monitors.

Doctor Who Sparked Black Lung Strike Dead at 87

Jul 24, 2015
e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Charleston Newspapers

Dr. Donald Rasmussen, an internal medicine specialist who helped spark the 1969 Black Lung Strike, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that throughout the 1960s, Rasmussen became involved in groundbreaking research about black lung, a sometimes-fatal disease caused by inhaling coal dust.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

The public is getting the chance to weigh in on a proposed rule that gives coal miners greater access to their health records.

The U.S. Labor Department's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs has made the proposed Black Lung Benefits Act rule available for public comment starting Wednesday.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

Senator Jay Rockefeller co-sponsored legislation to address barriers and delays miners face when seeking benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Program.

Steven Middleton

This week's episode features Elizabeth Wells McIlvain helps employ 1,000 people in West Virginia, making Fiesta ware.And we learn that the number of jobs created by the Kentucky Bourbon Distillery industry has doubled in the last two years. We'll also explore some eccentric roadside attractions, including a Ventriloquist museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

Lung Transplant Approved for Black Lung Victim

Oct 24, 2014
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Jessica Lilly checks in with a victim of black lung whose lung transplant was approved after his story aired on West Virginia Public Radio in June.  And Chris Smithers sings the Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Jessica Lilly

Former coal miner Robert Bailey was recently approved for a double lung transplant after waiting months for a black lung medical benefits claim to be approved. We spoke with Robert Bailey in June when he was waiting to hear if Patriot Coal’s insurance company would approve his appointment for a medical evaluation. 

Bailey’s doctor told him he needed a lung transplant in February of this year. Since then, he’s been working towards the waiting list. As we reported in June, Bailey had to cancel an evaluation appointment as Patriot Coal’s insurance company, Underwriters Safety and Claims, evaluated his request for coverage.  We caught up with Bailey at his kitchen table in Princeton about three months later to recap his journey.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Jay Rockefeller and plan to introduce legislation aimed at ensuring more fair treatment for coal miners with black lung disease as they pursue benefits claims.

The bill by the two coal-state senators comes after an investigation examined how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, helped defeat the benefits claims of sick miners. The investigation was done by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News.

Senator Rockefeller introduced the Black Lung Health Improvements Act last year, but the new bill is expected to address issues uncovered in the investigation.

The Law Works - Black Lung

Sep 16, 2014

Black lung disease was thought by some to be a disease of the past. It is not. It is not treatable or curable. Federal law says that a coal miner should work his or her entire life without incurring any disability from black lung. Why isn’t that happening? We’ll talk about Black Lung on this episode of The Law Works.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

West Virginia University's School of Public Health is kicking off a series of monthly Public Health Dialogues this week. The first in the series is titled "Black Lung and Chemical Spills: 100 years of Poor Health in West Virginia."

Jessica Lilly

Landmark regulation by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration meant to lower the amount of dust in mines begins Friday. The first part is meant to fix the loopholes in the sampling process. Victims of black lung hope the new regulations give young workers a better future. 

msha.gov

The first part of the landmark regulation meant to prevent black lung disease takes effect Friday. This phase is meant to fix regulatory loopholes in the sampling process.


Jessica Lilly

 A retired coal miner who suffers from black lung disease has urged Congress to help clear a backlog of claims of fellow miners who have the disease. Princeton native Robert Bailey testified at the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace hosted a hearing Tuesday. The hearing focused on the struggles miners face while seeking black lung benefits. Lawmakers say the testimony on Capitol Hill was meant to do three things:

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued 38 citations as a result of an inspection of Rhino Eastern LLC's Eagle Mine 3 in Wyoming County.  MSHA says inspectors found conditions that put miners at risk of developing black lung disease and increased the potential for deadly explosions.

According to a news release issued Monday, inspectors arrived at the mine mid-morning on June 24, securing the mine’s phone systems on the surface that provide communications to the underground mining section. They traveled to the underground working section, where they arrived undetected. There, they determined that the mine operator failed to follow approved ventilation, methane and dust control plans in several locations of the underground mine. 

Wikimedia Commons

The federal government announced Wednesday a reduction in the amount of aid West Virginia’s eight black lung clinics will receive this year for operating and clinical costs. The announcement continues funding cuts for the state’s Black Lung Program for the third year in a row.

A coal miner fighting for black lung benefits,

Creatively bringing fresh food to a city in West Virginia,

And, finding good use of an environmental pollutant.

Coal miner fights for benefits. Black lung disease has a long, crippling history in Appalachia. A former coal miner shares his battle for medical compensation after being diagnosed with the disease. Jessica Lilly  reports.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 The West Virginia board of Education approves the purchase of land in Gilmer Co. to consolidate schools there but, it comes at a cost four times its appraisal. A miner fights for health benefits and his life while living with black lung disease. Also, more from Wheeling's Grow Ohio Valley.

Jessica Lilly

Robert Bailey was a coal miner for 36 years. He began in McDowell County and after it became too hard to breathe, he retired from a mine owned by Patriot Coal in Boone County.

“Mostly because of my health and my breathing," Bailey explained between oxygen puffs. "My black lung condition.  I got where I felt like I couldn’t perform the way that I felt like I needed to."

In 2009 Bailey filed for disability and black lung benefits. After a few years of evaluations, and paperwork, the U.S. Department Of Labor determined that he deserved a monthly payment and medical care, which is a feat in itself. All the while, Bailey was struggling just to breathe.

Cheating on dust samples has been something of an open secret in the coal industry for years, a fact acknowledged by MSHA. Miners themselves play a central role in the cheating, since they're the ones who actually wear the dust pumps. Some take part because they don't want to get their own mine in trouble, believing it could hurt the employment prospects of everyone in the mine. Others take part because managers pressure them to. Doing dust samples on the up-and-up -- even if it means protecting oneself from black lung years down the road -- may not seem worth risking one of the only high-paying blue-collar jobs in town.

On this WV Morning, a conversation with Chris Hamby who just won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigation into coal dust and the resurgence of black lung in the past two decades. Also: getting a grip on landslides in the state. And jazz guitarist Julian Lage Performs "For Critter" in the Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Center for Public Integrity

This week the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration released updated regulations designed to drastically reduce the amount of coal dust miners inhale, hoping to cut back on the prevalence of black lung disease.

AllVoices.com

Rulemakers are moving to make good on a 40-year-old promise to end black lung with the announcement of new coal dust regulations. Officials from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Labor, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration announced new coal dust regulations.


On this West Virginia Morning you can hear about the new rules that aim to drastically reduce the prevalence of Black Lung disease; also, retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller reflects on his political career, and politics in general; and the Appalachian Institute of Digital Evidence is holding its 5th annual conference this week in Huntington.

AllVoices.com

The Obama administration is cutting the amount of coal dust allowed in coal mines in an effort to help reduce black lung disease.

Black lung is an irreversible and potentially deadly disease caused by exposure to coal dust. The government estimates that the disease has killed more than 76,000 miners since 1968.

AllVoices.com

  Top federal labor and mine safety officials are heading to West Virginia to release a long-awaited final rule on coal dust.

The announcement will be made Wednesday in Morgantown. Among those attending will be U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. The director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, John Howard, will also discuss the new rule.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

A McDowell County clinic is worried that federal cuts could compromise care for coal miners and their families.  The concern comes after grants for the Black Lung Clinic Programs were capped at $900,000. Since West Virginia was the only state to receive more than that annually, it’s expected to hit home the hardest.   

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A McDowell County clinic is worried that federal cuts could compromise care for coal miners with Black Lung Disease. Also, a segment from West Virginia at 150, which won the Best Documentary Award at the Associated Press Broadcasters Association of The Virginias.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

 Federal funds for black lung benefits in West Virginia were cut about 44 percent. The United States Department of Health and Human Services Black Lung Clinic program now limits awards to $900,000 per grantee.

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