Medical Studies Relevant to Black Lung from American Thoracic Society’s International Conference

The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has published abstracts from the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference in Denver, which begins tomorrow.

Below are three abstracts that are highly relevant to respiratory diseases experienced by coal miners and the black lung benefits system.

Each study looks very interesting in its own light and reflect the breathing problems that miners disproportionately suffer from.

One thing that is striking in looking at all three side-by-side is the variation in incidence rates of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP).  The Almberg, et al. study of Illinois mining-related workers’ compensation claims showed only a 0.3% rate of CWP, the Halldin, et al. study of national surveillance data for former miners showed a 6.9% rate of CWP, and the Yasin, et al. study of Kentucky miners who sought black lung disability benefits showed a rate of 56.6%.  This range  likely results from differences in the groups that were being studied.  For example, it can be expected that many coal workers filing workers’ comp claims may be younger miners who suffer from an immediate accident resulting in, for example, a hurt finger, while former miners seeking black lung disability benefits would be a self-selecting group that would likely suffer from a much higher rate of CWP.

Hopefully these posters are eventually published as full articles so that we can learn more about the studies and what they tell us about black lung.

Cardiopulmonary Disease Among Illinois Miners, Results Of An Analysis Of State Workers’ Compensation Databy Kirsten S. Almberg, MS; Lee Friedman, PhD; Judith M. Graber, PhD; Edward L. Petsonk, MD; Cecile Rose , MD; Leonard H.T. Go , MD; and Robert A. Cohen, MD.

Almberg et al - Cardiopulmonary Disease Among Illinois Miners, Results of an Analysis of State Workers' Compensation Data

Respiratory Morbidity Among Former U.S. Coal Miners” by Cara N. Halldin, PhD; Anita L. Wolfe, BA; and Anthony S. Laney, PhD.

Halldin et al - Respiratory Morbidity Among Former U.S. Coal Miners

Depression, COPD And Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis (CWP) Are Common Among Kentucky Coal Miners Evaluated For Respiratory Impairment” by Muhammad Yasin, MD; Bryan Beatty, MS; and Rodney J. Folz, M.D., Ph.D.

Yasin et al - Depression, COPD And Coal Worker's Pneumoconiosis (CWP) Are Common Among Kentucky Coal Miners Evaluated For Respiratory Impairment

2 Responses to “Medical Studies Relevant to Black Lung from American Thoracic Society’s International Conference”

  1. ABC

    Would say that the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation cases likely plays a major role in the Almberg study. It’s three years in Illinois, so when you have a disease that may take decades to show up, and not show up until after retirement, your ability to file a claim in Illinois may be lost. This means that the claims rate for black lung may be far lower than the actual black lung rate.

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