Coal miners in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania soon will have the opportunity to receive free, confidential screenings for black lung from a NIOSH mobile testing unit.
NIOSH is offering the screenings beginning in March to provide early detection of pneumoconiosis (CWP), also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust. Workers may access NIOSH’s mobile testing unit at conveniently placed community and mine locations.
“NIOSH is committed to public health outreach and surveillance for coal worker health,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Early detection of black lung in coal miners, through a screening program that is free and confidential, is critical to protecting these workers from advancing to stages of the disease that are life-threatening.”
Screening will include a work history questionnaire, a chest x-ray and spirometry testing. Blood pressure screening also will be offered. Typically, the process takes about 25 minutes, and NIOSH provides the individual miner with the results of his or her own screening. No individual information is publicly disclosed, including the names of participating miners. Miners who participate will access an easy way to check on their health; a report regarding whether or not they have x-ray evidence of CWP; and detection at an early stage of some chest problems other than black lung.
NIOSH offers these health screenings under its Enhanced Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (ECWHSP), a public health outreach effort that responds to well-documented clusters of serious disease. The first visit is scheduled for the week of March 3 in areas throughout Alabama. Local and individual outreach will be done in all specific locations.
Miners and their families can find additional information about ECWHSP online or by calling toll-free at 1-888-480-4042.