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Thousands Of Coal Miners Eligible for Free Chest X-rays

The "Miners' Choice Health Screening" is an\r\nattempt to determine the depth and scope of black lung disease among U.S. coal miners.

I''m going to share something personal with you: My grandfather died from complications related to black lung disease. He was a coal miner in West Virginia and Virginia for many years and waited until it was too late to have his respiratory problems checked out by a physician.

That is why it is so important to spread the news that thousands of active U.S. coal miners are eligible for free, confidential chest X-rays to detect work-related lung diseases under a program initiated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

The "Miners'' Choice Health Screening" is offering free, confidential chest X-rays to selected coal miners nationwide in an attempt to determine the depth and scope of black lung disease among U.S. coal miners. "We encourage all eligible miners to take part in this program," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The statistics being gathered will help to gauge progress and plan the next steps in preventing black lung."

Under the program, approximately 6,700 miners are eligible for the free chest X-rays. MSHA will inform all miners who are eligible, and miners can get the tests from a mobile X-ray van that will visit near their work sites. The X-rays go to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which coordinates readings and will notify each tested miner of individual findings.

Nearly 18,000 miners nationwide have taken advantage of the free chest X-rays since the program began in 1999. States with 100 or more eligible miners are Wyoming (1,774), Illinois (603), Indiana (378), West Virginia (1,661), Washington (552), Montana (369), Virginia (619), Pennsylvania (383) and Oklahoma (104).

The X-rays will be available through Sept. 30. Retired miners or nonworking miners are not eligible.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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