Thursday, December 3, 2015

Black lung data elusive as new coal dust rules take effect

(AP) — Federal mine safety officials are touting new regulations that will increase monitoring for the coal dust that causes black lung disease. They're concerned because new cases of the disease are being under reported.

Beginning Feb. 1, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration will require coal operators to increase the number of air samples taken in underground mines, among other measures.

Black lung kills about 1,000 coal miners each year.

According to the mine safety agency, companies reported about 700 cases in a four-year span ending in September. But from 2010 to 2014, about 3,600 miners were awarded black lung benefits from the government.

Joe Main, the head of the mine safety agency, says there are many reasons for the under reporting, and mine operators aren't entirely to blame. He says it underscores the need for the new regulations.