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NIOSH Announces Spring 2020 Schedule of Black Lung Screenings

March 13, 2020
NIOSH Update:

MEDIA CONTACT: Stephanie Stevens,, 202.245.0641

Free health exams for coal miners to begin March 30 in Kentucky and Virginia

Mobile testing van

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will offer a series of free, confidential health screenings to coal miners as part of the Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program (CWHSP). The screenings are intended to provide early detection of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung, a serious but preventable occupational lung disease in coal miners caused by breathing respirable coal mine dust.

Upcoming screenings will begin March 30 in Harlan, Kentucky and will continue across southeast Kentucky through April 18. Screenings will continue in southwest Virginia beginning May 4 in Appalachia, Virginia and will run through May 22, ending in Pounding Mill, Virginia. The NIOSH website lists the schedule and locations for all upcoming black lung screenings. The confidential health screenings are provided through the state-of-the-art NIOSH mobile testing units at convenient community locations.

“NIOSH encourages both underground and surface miners to take advantage of free screenings in order to detect the early signs of black lung. If black lung is caught early, steps can be taken to help prevent it from progressing to the most serious forms of the disease,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.

Screenings provided by NIOSH will include a work history questionnaire, a chest x-ray, a breathing assessment questionnaire, a lung function test (spirometry), and blood pressure screening. The screenings typically take about 30 minutes and each individual miner is provided with their results. By law, each miner’s results are confidential. No individual information is publicly disclosed.

Participation in this program gives the coal miner:

  • An easy way of checking on their health;
  • A confidential report regarding whether or not their x-ray showed signs of black lung;
  • A confidential report about their lung function.

Miners can look for survey announcements on the program’s web page and Facebook and at @NIOSHBreathe on Twitter. Local and individual outreach will be done in all specific locations.  All coal miners—current, former, underground, surface, and those under contract—are welcome to participate.

NIOSH encourages miners and their families to go to the CWHSP web page to learn more about the program. You may also call the toll-free number (1-888-480-4042) with questions.