Essay on People: Coal and Black Lung

Submitted By juizeman23
Words: 369
Pages: 2

Black Lung Disease
Black Lung Disease is common known as coalworker’s pneumoconiosis. It is caused by being exposed to so much coal dust. It is a common affliction of coal miners and others who work with coal, similar to both silicosis from inhaling silica dust, and to the long term effect of tobacco smoking. Inhaling coal dust progressively builds up in the lungs and is unable to be removed by the body that leads to inflammation, fibrosis, and in worse cases necrosis.
Black lung is actually a set of conditions and until the 1950’s its dangerous were not well understood. The prevailing view was that silicosis was very serious but it was solely caused by silica and not coal dust. The miners' union, the United Mine Workers of America, realized that rapid mechanization meant drills that produced much more dust, but under John L. Lewis they decided not to raise the black lung issue because it might impede the mechanization that was producing higher productivity and higher wages. After the death of Lewis, the union dropped its opposition to calling black lung a disease, and realized the financial advantages of a fund for its disabled members. In the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, the U.S. Congress set up standards to reduce dust and created the Black Lung Disability Trust. The mining companies agreed to a clause, by which a ten-year history of mine work, coupled with X-ray or autopsy evidence of severe lung damage, guaranteed compensation. Financed by a