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Among All Miners, Coal Miners Demonstrate a Disproportionately High Prevalence of Obstructive Spirometric Abnormality and Chronic Bronchitis

Sood, Akshay, MD, MPH; Shore, Xin, MS; Myers, Orrin, PhD; Assad, Nour, MD; Pollard, Charles, BS; Cook, Linda S., PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: April 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 4 - p 328–334
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001547
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Objective: To compare the prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) between miners extracting coal versus other minerals.

Methods: The study population was based on New Mexico miners, mostly Hispanic and American Indian, attending a rural community-based mobile screening clinic program between 1989 and 2014. We compared self-reported symptoms, lung diseases, and spirometric patterns between 1353 coal miners and 4140 non-coal miners.

Results: Obstruction was the most common abnormal spirometric pattern among all miners (16.9%). Coal miners were more likely to demonstrate an obstructive pattern and report chronic bronchitis symptoms than non-coal miners (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03, 1.48; and OR = 1.47, 95% CI: 1.24, 1.75, respectively). These associations remained significant among never smoking miners.

Conclusions: The prevention and management of COPD among coal miners deserves greater emphasis by rural health care delivery systems.

University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque (Dr Sood, Mrs Shore, Dr Myers, Dr Assad, Dr Cook); and Miners’ Colfax Medical Center, Raton (Dr Sood, Mr Pollard), New Mexico.

Address correspondence to: Akshay Sood, MD, MPH, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, 1 University of New Mexico, MSC 10 5550, Albuquerque, NM 87131 (asood@salud.unm.edu).

Clinical Significance: Coal miners are more likely to demonstrate an obstructive spirometric pattern and report chronic bronchitis symptoms than miners extracting other minerals. The prevention, diagnosis, and management of COPD among coal miners deserve greater emphasis by rural health care delivery systems.

Funding Support provided by: HRSA (Health Resource Service Administration) and PCORI (Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute).

Other sources of support: None.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine