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An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.

Federal Agency to Hear Comment on Silica Dust as Black Lung Epidemic Rages

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The Mine Safety and Health Administration will host a public meeting Thursday as it considers action on regulating respirable silica, one of the major contributors to Appalachia’s skyrocketing rates of black lung disease. MSHA issued a request for information in response to calls for increased regulation after a 2018 investigation from NPR and PBS Frontline. That… Read More

An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.

New Kentucky Memorial Honors Miners Who Died Of Black Lung

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Coal miners and family members of miners who have died from black lung disease gathered Sunday in Whitesburg, Kentucky, to dedicate a new memorial to miners who perished from the workplace disease. While Appalachian coal country has several memorials to mining disasters, this is believed to be the first memorial to remember the thousands of… Read More

Piles of coal

As Disabled Miners Hit D.C., Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Fund Black Lung Benefits

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Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation Tuesday to provide additional funding for coal miners suffering from black lung. The bills came as a contingent of Appalachian miners afflicted with the disease lobbied lawmakers for more support. “It doesn’t only take your health. It takes your identity,” Barry Johnson said of the disease. Johnson is a… Read More

An X-ray image of an Appalachian coal miner with black lung lesions.

As Congressional Panel Focuses On Black Lung, UMW Urges Stronger Health Protections


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As Congress hears testimony on the epidemic of black lung disease among Appalachian miners, two labor leaders are calling on Congress and regulators to do more to protect miners. In a letter to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, or MSHA, the United Mine Workers of America and the United Steel Workers of America urged… Read More

As Calls For Action On Black Lung Disease Grow, Regulators Show Little Indication Of Change

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Harold Sturgill was disabled by black lung disease when he was 58 years old. Now he advocates for disabled miners. “When it comes to the mining companies, and it comes to the worker, it’s still all about production,” Sturgill said. “They could care less about me, how much dust I suck in, or how long… Read More

Remembering A Coal Miner Who Stood Up For Those With Black Lung

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Robert Bailey started mining coal in southern West Virginia’s McDowell County in the 1970s. By the time he retired from the Patriot Coal Company 36 years later he was already having trouble breathing. By the time I first interviewed Bailey in 2014, his black lung disease had become severe. “I’m in the process of a lung transplant,” he… Read More

West Virginia Coal Miners Rally For Black Lung Legislation

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Miners and advocates rallied Wednesday at the West Virginia Capitol in support of a series of bills aimed at preventing and treating severe black lung disease. Five bills introduced by lawmakers would make it easier to make qualify for state benefits and provide benefits to miners who have early-stage black lung. The bills come at… Read More

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Still Fighting: These Widows’ Stories Show Larger Effects of Black Lung Epidemic

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Nancy and Rich Potter had the kind of marriage that made other couples jealous. He’d take her on spontaneous trips. She’d wear her Daisy Dukes just for him. Joyce Birman said her late husband, George, made a terrible first impression. It was his apology for it that made her fall for him, hard. Vickie Salyers’… Read More