Cinnaminson, NJ, November 18th, 2015
Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mining Safety and Health Association (MSHA) released a final rule to address miners' exposure to respirable coal dust. The rule lowers the respirable coal mine dust exposure limits at both underground and surface coal mines. It went into effect on August 1, 2014 and includes a two-year phase-in period.
Prolonged exposure to respirable coal mine dust can cause lung diseases, such as coal workers' pneumoconiosis, emphysema and progressive massive fibrosis. These diseases, collectively referred to as Black Lung, can lead to permanent disability and even death.
According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) estimates, more than 76,000 miners have died since 1968 as a result of Black Lung, and more than $45 billion in federal compensation benefits have been paid out to coal miners disabled by black lung and their survivors.
Evidence indicates that miners, including young miners, are continually being diagnosed with the disease. NIOSH reports that although some miners never develop the disease, others may develop the early signs after less than 10 years of mining experience. In its early stages, called simple pneumoconiosis, the disease may not prevent workers from carrying on most normal activities. In some miners, the disease progresses from simple to complicated pneumoconiosis, a condition called progressive massive fibrosis.
“Workers exposed to coal dust that have shortness of breath, cough or any other health concerns are advised by NIOSH to seek medical attention right away as pneumoconiosis may be detected on chest x-rays,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “Unfortunately, there is no cure for the damage that coal dust does to one’s lungs so preventing Black Lung needs to be among the highest priorities for protecting the health of coal miners. At EMSL, we offer gravimetric dust and silica analyses to test for respirable dusts to help prevent occupational exposure risks and help to ensure that mine operators comply with these new regulations.”
EMSL recently sponsored an educational video about coal dust exposure and black lung disease that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/mylbjpYXYj8.
To learn more about coal and respirable dust testing or other occupational, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800)220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality, consumer product and materials testing services and products for professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.