Curtis Tate Published

Manchin, Coal State Senators Ask MSHA: Where Is Silica Dust Rule?

Superintendent Jackie Ratliff, a coal miner, holds coal running through a processing plant in Welch, W.Va.

Coal state senators are pressing federal mine safety regulators on a silica dust rule they promised months ago.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration was supposed to release its silica dust standard in January.

After months of delay, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and other Democrats from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia are asking MSHA when it will be announced.

A 2020 Inspector General’s report found that three times the number of coal miners were diagnosed with advanced black lung disease from 2010 to 2014 than from 1995 to 1999.

Exposure to silica dust is believed to make black lung disease more severe and strike much younger miners, including some in their 30s.

MSHA has taken actions this year on the enforcement side, with more inspections, sampling, compliance assistance and an emphasis on miners’ rights.

But, the senators wrote to MSHA, that’s not enough.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.