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New Research Highlights Surge in Black Lung Cases Among Underground Coal Miners



September 12, 2023 - Concerns are growing over the health of underground coal miners as new data reveals a surge in cases of severe lung disease. The surge is primarily attributed to the exposure to silica dust, which is 20 times more toxic than normal coal dust. In recent years, there has been a push for stronger silica regulation, and changes may be on the horizon. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) held public hearings to gather feedback on a proposal to halve the permissible exposure limit for silica dust.

However, advocates emphasize the importance of strict monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance. They also raise concerns about the reliance on coal companies to report their own data and call for regular inspections. While the proposed rule change is seen as a victory, there are calls for MSHA to consider fines or other measures for non-compliance and to reevaluate certain aspects of the proposal language.

Some miners have already suffered irreversible lung damage, underscoring the urgency for stricter silica restrictions. MSHA hosted three public hearings, and the public comment period has been extended until September 11, 2023.