A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Rural Blog: Getting black-lung benefits a daunting task for Central Appalachian coal miners

Black-lung disease is common among coal miners, with one in 10 nationwide suffering some form of it. The disease hit a 25-year high in Central Appalachia last year, where one in five suffer from it. But accessing federal benefits for the sometimes debilitating and deadly disease can be difficult, often taking years of fighting through bureaucracy, Sydney Boles reports for Ohio Valley Resource. “The...

Black lung disease is still killing coal miners, and the coal industry doesn’t want to acknowledge it

By Elyssa East Special to KyForward Dr. James Brandon Crum was alarmed. For months, unemployed coal miners had been coming into his clinic in Coal Run Village seeking chest radiographs. One patient in 2015 stood out. He was in his early 40s, about the same age as Crum, and had three children at home, just like him, but he could barely walk. The 68ft hallway between the x-ray room and Crum’s office...

Rural Blog: One in five Appalachian miners who have worked at least 25 years diagnosed with black lung

One in five coal miners in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia who have worked at least 25 years has black-lung disease, according to a new study from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. That’s the highest reported rate in a quarter-century. “We can think of no other industry or workplace in the United States in which this would be considered acceptable,” NIOSH...

Rural Blog: Trump maintains silence on expiring benefits for retired miners; deadline is April 28

President Trump has been vocal on his promise to “put our miners back to work” but has remained mum on expiring benefits for retired coal miners, notes Noam Scheiber of The New York Times. One of those miners is David Van Sickle, who at 59 suffers from black-lung disease. Van Sickle, a Trump supporter who heeded doctor’s orders to retire two years ago after four decades of mining...

Rural Blog: CDC report shows black-lung disease on the rise for miners in Eastern Kentucky

Black-lung disease is surging among Appalachian coal miners, according to a report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an investigation by Howard Berkes of NPR. In June, Eastern Kentucky radiologist Brandon Crum contacted the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to report a surge in black-lung disease in the coal-mining area. The radiologist, who was not named,...

New personal monitors show new dust-control rules in coal mines about 99 percent effective

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Monday that nearly all of “the nation’s coal mines were in compliance on nearly all dust samples taken this year with new monitors aimed at cutting miners’ exposure to particles that can cause deadly black lung disease,” Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Tougher dust-control rules in coal mines, which took effect...