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Lung-Function Impairment Among US Underground Coal Miners, 2005 to 2009: Geographic Patterns and Association With Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis

Wang, Mei Lin MD, MPH; Beeckman-Wagner, Lu-Ann PhD; Wolfe, Anita L. BA; Syamlal, Girija MBBS, MPH; Petsonk, Edward L. MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 7 - p 846–850
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31828dc985
Original Articles

Objective: To investigate contemporary geographic distributions of lung-function impairment and radiographic evidence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) and their associations.

Methods: From 2005 to 2009, 6373 underground coal miners completed a health survey, including spirometry testing and chest radiography. Coal workers' pneumoconiosis and progressive massive fibrosis were determined by NIOSH B readers, using the International Labour Office classification. Prevalences of CWP and spirometry less than lower normal limits were mapped by county, and their association assessed.

Results: The prevalences of abnormal spirometry results and CWP were 13.1% and 4.0%, respectively. Counties with elevated prevalences for both the outcomes were located in contiguous areas of southeastern Kentucky, western Virginia, southern West Virginia, and eastern Pennsylvania. Prevalence of abnormal spirometry results increases with increasing category of simple CWP and progressive massive fibrosis.

Conclusions: Abnormal spirometry in coal miners is associated with CWP; these two health outcomes have similar geographic distributions.

From the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV.

Address correspondence to: Mei Lin Wang, MD, MPH, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mail Stop H-G900.2, 1095 Willowdale Rd, Morgantown, WV 26505 (mlw4@cdc.gov).

Funded by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Mention of a specific product or company does not constitute endorsement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No conflicts of interest declared.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine