Prevalence Of Silicosis Studied In Surface Coal Miners

May 26, 1998

Hershey, Pa. --- New research finds that 9 percent of surface coal miners in the bituminous coal regions of western Pennsylvania have silicosis. The study also found that of surface coal miners who worked as drillers more than 20 years, 61 percent had silicosis.

The research titled, "Screening for Silicosis in Surface Coal Miners," was presented in April at the 1998 International Conference of the American Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association in Chicago, Ill., by John L. Stauffer, M.D., professor of medicine at Penn State's College of Medicine. Stauffer is also a pulmonary and critical care physician for the Penn State Geisinger Health System.

"In order to mine surface coal, workers have to go through a layer of soil and rock. As they blast and drill through this layer, miners are exposed to rock dust before they get to the coal," says Stauffer. "Fortunately, most of the abnormalities detected on the chest x-rays were in the very early stages. But we are concerned about those surface miners who could face the risk of progressive disease."

Silicosis is a chronic, incurable and potentially fatal lung disease caused by occupational exposure to inhaled silica dust. It is estimated there are about 3,300 surface miners of bituminous coal in western Pennsylvania. This research evaluated 667 surface miners who volunteered for the study. Each miner was given a chest X-ray and a breathing test, and answered questions related to demographics, medical and work histories, smoking behavior, respiratory symptoms, and safety awareness practices.

"Silicosis has killed more people in Pennsylvania than any other state. The results of this study demonstrate that silicosis is prevalent in surface coal miners in western Pennsylvania and suggest the need for increased environmental controls and safety practices to help reduce the risk of acquiring silicosis. This disease is preventable," states Stauffer. "Our results also make us concerned about silicosis in other surface workers, such as miners in the sand, stone, and gravel industries."

This study was funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health Chronic Respiratory Disease Program.

Stauffer and his colleagues are also working on research that looks at the presence of silicosis in surface coal miners in the anthracite regions of northeast Pennsylvania.

Stauffer explains that this research study is a joint effort among several agencies including The Pennsylvania Department of Health, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, The Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Departments of Medicine and Health Evaluation Sciences at Penn State's College of Medicine.

"The partnership of these organizations has been the essential ingredient in this research," adds Stauffer.
-end-


Penn State

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.