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MSHA News Release No. 98-0817
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Free, Confidential Chest X-rays Offered to Kentucky Coal Miners

In its continuing efforts to eliminate black lung disease and silicosis, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is offering free, confidential chest x-rays to surface and underground coal miners employed at Kentucky coal mines. Over the past three years, MSHA has offered similar screenings in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.

During the month of September, any miner currently or previously employed (within the last 12 months) by a Kentucky coal mine is eligible for the examination. The identity of miners taking part in the screening, and the results, will be kept confidential.

"To combat black lung effectively, we need to know more about the extent of the problem in all the nation's coalfields," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We urge coal miners to take advantage of this program. It will provide valuable, confidential information for the miners who participate, and it will help in the effort to eliminate black lung."

Before being selected for the screening, miners must contact one of three designated MSHA field offices in Kentucky. Miners will be asked a series of questions regarding work history to determine their eligibility. A total of 500 appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so miners are encouraged to call MSHA as soon as possible.

Physicians at the West Virginia University Medical Center in Morgantown will interpret the x-ray screenings, and the university will provide individual findings confidentially to each miner by the end of the year. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will compile the cumulative results of the tests to determine if there continues to be a problem with lung disease.

To sign up for a free screening, Kentucky coal miners need to call one of the following MSHA offices using the toll-free numbers below:

Eastern Kentucky (Pikeville office): (800) 294-4033
Southeastern Kentucky (Barbourville office): (877) 215-5100
Western Kentucky (Madisonville office): (800) 294-4035

Black lung and silicosis are disabling, irreversible and often fatal lung diseases. Black lung is caused by overexposure to respirable coal mine dust, while silicosis results from overexposure to crystalline silica. More than 2,000 miners have previously participated in these screenings.