black lung

Howard Berkes

  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 I’m going to live, because somebody else is there to take my place.”

Sturgill worries that without meaningful action to protect miners, his son, who is also a miner, will contract the same illness. “A man’s gonna feed his family whether it kills him or not,” he said.

Steadman retrospective coming to Lexington ● Group purchasing of solar power ● The shortcomings at KY OSHA● Coal employment at all-time low ● Pikeville's painful loss: EnerBlu ● Debating with body language

These stories are on the latest Eastern Standard:

Lexington's Mayor Gorton on priorities such as fighting opioid addiction and creating an Ag-Tech hub.

Aligning Kentucky education with the demands of the Kentucky jobs market

How federal benefits programs have failed black lung families.

Plus, a decision coming in Frankfort on medial marijuana

MSHA

 This year, under the Trump administration, MSHA decided to remove POV status for the Affinity mine in an agreement with the company that resolved litigation on the matter, despite a continued record of spotty safety performance at the mine.

Sydney Boles/Ohio Valley ReSource

On a cool but clear November day about a dozen residents from eastern Kentucky’s coal mining region crowded into the lobby of an office building in the small town of London, Kentucky. That’s where Kentucky’s powerful senior senator, Mitch McConnell, has his local field office.

McConnell’s staff let the local advocates for black lung treatment into the office a few at a time to make their case for funding the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

 

Courtesy the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Retired coal miners and coal community activists are on Capitol Hill this week urging action on two important issues for miners: pensions and black lung benefits. Advocates say funds supporting both pensions for retired miners and the federal benefits for those sickened by black lung disease are at risk if Congress does not act. 

Pension Problem

Region’s Black Lung Rates Highest In 25 Years

Jul 19, 2018
OVR

A new study by federal health officials finds the recent surge in cases of black lung disease is especially concentrated among coal miners in central Appalachia.

Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say the rate of black lung disease among experienced miners in central Appalachia is the highest they have seen in a quarter century.

Adelina Lancianese NPR

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences says the coal mining industry needs a “fundamental shift” in the way it controls exposure to coal and rock dust in order to prevent lung disease among miners.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

A new study from the Government Accountability Office finds that the federal fund supporting coal miners with black lung disease could be in financial trouble without Congressional action. As NPR has reported, the GAO found that the fund’s debt could rise dramatically at the same time that black lung disease is surging

From C-Span Video

Jesse Wright

While President Trump is wrapping up a week of energy talks in Washington highlighting the benefits of coal, health and industry experts met in Morgantown, West Virginia, to discuss the resurgence of black lung disease among miners.


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 many as 5 percent of experienced working miners in the region, and the researchers fear that rate could be even higher among retired miners.  


A bipartisan group of legislators has asked President Donald Trump to make more money available for black lung health clinics as they face an increase in cases of the disease among coal miners.  

More than 20 clinics would benefit from the $3.3 million increase lawmakers are requesting. The clinics provide miners with health screenings, medical care, and assistance in securing black lung benefits.

The lawmakers wrote in a letter to the president and the White House budget director that the level of funding for clinics has been frozen for the past five years.  

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 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.

 

NPR's Howard Berkes Discusses Black Lung Series

Dec 16, 2016
Howard Berkes - NPR

NPR is reporting this week on a sharp increase in the number of Appalachian coal miners with the worst form of black lung.

The Ohio Valley ReSource partnered with NPR to better understand what this means for miners and mining communities. Jeff Young spoke with NPR investigative reporter Howard Berkes about why this deadly but preventable disease is on the rise.