WVU Researcher Notes Complicated Black Lung Cases

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) – A West Virginia University researcher says he has been seeing a steady stream of coal miners from southern West Virginia with both simple black lung disease and the more advanced form called progressive massive fibroses.

Dr. Carl Werntz, associate professor of occupational medicine, sees patients at his clinic in Morgantown and at the Cabin Creek Clinic in Dawes.

In a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health researchers report a cluster of 416 cases of complicated black lung disease from three Appalachian clinics from 2013 to 2017 among 11,200 miners observed.

Werntz says higher amounts of silica dust in the air, difficult airflow and longer exposure to dust increase risk and may be contributing to the high prevalence.