For those who are currently employed as a coal miner, the company must provide miners with an X-ray every five years.
Symptoms of black lung disease include:
- chronic cough
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- chest congestion
In some cases, the disease can be present without any presentation of symptoms. That's why those who work with coal in any capacity are encouraged to have regular X-rays to pick up evidence of the disease early.
There is no treatment to reverse the damage that inhaled coal dust has already done to a person's lungs. Treatment is focused on decreasing the likelihood of further damage occurring, and improving quality of life for those with the condition.
While there are government regulations in place to restrict exposure to coal dust through new masks and air quality technology, it is assumed that miners are still dying because the mining companies haven't invested in these new methods, or perhaps the implementation of these methods came too late for those already working in the mines.
The only way to prevent black lung is to restrict exposure to coal dust. Unless all coal mining companies start implementing these precautions and investing in new equipment, this condition will continue to plague our hard-working men and women.
Sources: www.breathingbetterlivingwell.com; www.courier-journal.com; www.cdc.gov; www.webmd.com