The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) recently announced that more than 20,000 coal miners at almost 600 mining operations are newly eligible to get free, confidential chest X-rays to detect traces of black lung disease.
This is the third phase of the Miners'' Choice Health Screening program, which began a year ago.
MSHA will offer the free exams to more miners at operations in Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and several other states.
The agency randomly selects the operations where miners will be eligible for free X-ray each year.
Eligible miners will be notified by MSHA during the current fiscal year and given a list of participating medical facilities in their area where free X-rays will be taken.
MSHA will collect statistical information on the number of miners being tested and those testing positive for black lung disease.
The agency hopes to provide free chest X-rays to about one-fifth of all coal miners each year for five years so all of the nearly 90,000 coal miners nationwide will have the opportunity for a free exam.
Only current, working miners are eligible for the free X-rays.
by Virginia Sutcliffe