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New Investigation Shows Black Lung Disease Numbers Much Higher than Previously Thought

EMSL Analytical, Inc. offers testing services and sampling supplies for coal dust monitoring to help protect against this respirable hazard.

Cinnaminson, NJ – WEBWIRE

In December, National Public Radio (NPR) released information from an investigation they conducted into the number of coal miners across Appalachia that suffer from a severe form of black lung disease. Complicated black lung, also known as progressive massive fibrosis, involves the development of large conglomerate masses of dense fibrosis following coal dust or silica entering the lungs. According to the NPR report, the number of progressive massive fibrosis patients they discovered was more than 10 times higher than figures from federal regulators.

Prolonged exposure to respirable coal mine dust can cause lung diseases, such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, emphysema and progressive massive fibrosis. These diseases, collectively referred to as black lung, can lead to permanent disability and even death. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the damage that coal dust does to a miner’s lungs, so preventing black lung needs to be among the highest priorities for protecting the health of coal miners. 

Evidence indicates that miners, including young miners, are continually being diagnosed with black lung disease. Although some miners never develop the disease, others may develop the early signs after less than 10 years of mining experience reports the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In its early stages, called simple pneumoconiosis, the disease may not prevent workers from carrying on most normal activities. In some miners, the disease progresses from simple to progressive massive fibrosis.

“In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mining Safety and Health Association (MSHA) released a final rule to address miners’ exposure to respirable coal dust,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc.  “The rule lowered the respirable coal mine dust exposure limits at both underground and surface coal mines. At EMSL Analytical, Inc., we offer gravimetric dust and silica analyses to test for respirable dusts to help prevent occupational exposure risks and help to ensure that mine operators are complying with these health and safety regulations.”

EMSL has also sponsored an educational video about coal dust exposure and black lung disease that can be seen at:

To learn more about coal and respirable dust testing or other occupational, environmental, health and safety services, please visit, call (800) 220-3675 or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical, Inc. is one of the leading testing laboratories with over 40 locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP 797, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA LAP, LLC. (AIHA EMLAP, AIHA IHLAP, AIHA ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at for a complete listing of accreditations.  In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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