Black Lung

Black Lung Update: Federal Researchers Seek Allies in Appalachia

Apr 5, 2017
Researchers present findings on the return of black lung disease.
Benny Becker / Ohio Valley ReSource

Federal health researchers are visiting health clinics and medical schools in the Appalachian coalfields to recruit allies in the fight a resurgence of black lung disease. The worst form of the disease may affect as much as 5 percent of experienced working miners in the region, and the researchers fear that rate could be even higher among retired miners.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, the lead sponsor of the senate bill to legalize medical marijuana says he will accept all the changes the house made to the bill and today’s a big day at the legislature.  Both chambers will vote on their budget bills.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Jessica Lilly

Coal mining has touched so many aspects of life in Appalachia. The coal industry has provided more than just jobs — it’s helped build towns, bridges and it’s even provided money for many Appalachians to go to college. We also have a deep cultural connection to coal and its history.

Still, there’s no denying the coal industry has changed the landscape of our mountains, and infected many miners with a deadly disease known as black lung.

Adobe Stock

Two U.S. House committees have approved a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  Critics of the law say it will raise premiums and cause millions to lose health coverage.

The House bill does, however, preserve an amendment written into the Affordable Care Act that makes it easier for coal miners with black lung disease to qualify for compensation benefits.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Charleston Newspapers

On February 24, 1928, physician Donald Rasmussen was born in Colorado. In 1962, he moved to Beckley to work at Miners Memorial Hospital.

He quickly observed that many coal miners were suffering from severe breathing problems. As a result, he began dedicating a good portion of his time to studying black lung disease.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic in Scarbro, oxygen tubes dangle from the noses of three miners slowly pedaling on stationary bikes.  All of these men have black lung – a disease caused by breathing in coal dust. Over time, the dust coats the lungs and causes them to harden. Hard lungs don’t easily expand and contract, and that makes it difficult to breath.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton looks at the Affordable Care Act and how the law makes it easier for coal miners to receive black lung benefits and Clark Davis talks with Huntington native Griffin McElroy who’s been named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list for media.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

The Branham Family
Benny Becker / Ohio Valley ReSource

At the age of 38, a coal miner named Mackie Branham Jr. was diagnosed with progressive massive fibrosis, a debilitating and terminal form of an illness that was supposed to be a disease of the past — black lung. But Branham is among many the miners afflicted by a resurgence in the disease, and officials are just beginning to realize the scope of the problem. A review of health clinic records shows roughly a thousand such cases, many times more than federal officials had thought existed.

Tom Williams / Getty Images

This week on the Front Porch, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito gives her take on what the new Trump administration means for West Virginia.

We discuss recent resurgence of black lung among coal miners, what comes after the promised repeal of the Affordable Care Act, what can be done to build rural broadband networks, and more.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, an interview with NPR investigative reporter Howard Berkes who has found a sharp increase in the number of coal miners with black lung disease and JD Souther and Nellie McKay are along with our Mountain Stage song of the week.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Benny Becker/Ohio Valley ReSource

NPR revealed this week that more coal miners in Appalachia are suffering from black lung than National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports. Inside Appalachia Host Jessica Lilly spoke with NPR investigative reporter Howard Berkes about the points raised in his report.


Across Appalachia, coal miners are suffering from the most serious form of the deadly mining disease black lung in numbers more than 10 times what federal regulators report, an NPR investigation has found.

The government, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reported 99 cases of "complicated" black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, throughout the country the last five years.

March 14, 1974: Dr. I. E. Buff Dies at 65

Mar 14, 2016
Dr. I. E. Buff
University of Virginia Library

Dr. I. E. Buff died in Charleston on March 14, 1974, at age 65. Buff was the first physician to protest publicly that many coal miners’ deaths were inaccurately being labeled as heart attacks. He argued that the coronaries were being caused by a widespread disease known commonly as black lung. He suggested that as many as half of West Virginia’s 40,000 miners suffered from black lung.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

The second phase of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administrations landmark rule that’s meant to prevent black lung disease, took effect this month. Among other requirements for companies, coal miners basically will be required to wear personal dust monitors.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / via Charleston Newspapers

Dr. Donald Rasmussen, an internal medicine specialist who helped spark the 1969 Black Lung Strike, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that throughout the 1960s, Rasmussen became involved in groundbreaking research about black lung, a sometimes-fatal disease caused by inhaling coal dust.

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

The public is getting the chance to weigh in on a proposed rule that gives coal miners greater access to their health records.

The U.S. Labor Department's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs has made the proposed Black Lung Benefits Act rule available for public comment starting Wednesday.

e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia Humanities Council

Black lung is a deadly disease caused by exposure to dust underground.
Department of Labor

Senator Jay Rockefeller co-sponsored legislation to address barriers and delays miners face when seeking benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Program.

Steven Middleton

This week's episode features Elizabeth Wells McIlvain helps employ 1,000 people in West Virginia, making Fiesta ware.And we learn that the number of jobs created by the Kentucky Bourbon Distillery industry has doubled in the last two years. We'll also explore some eccentric roadside attractions, including a Ventriloquist museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Jessica Lilly checks in with a victim of black lung whose lung transplant was approved after his story aired on West Virginia Public Radio in June.  And Chris Smithers sings the Mountain Stage Song of the Week.

Pages