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What is black lung disease?

Despite more stringent safety regulations in mining, those who work in that industry still contract "black lung disease." It gets its name from the fact that a person's lungs turn from a healthy pink to black. It's also known as coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP). Coal macules form in the lungs and eventually turn into coal nodules.

People contract CWP by inhaling coal dust. The severity of victims' cases depends on how much coal dust they've been exposed to and for how long. Symptoms can show up even after a person is no longer exposed to it. A more advanced form of CWP is called progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). People with CWP may experience coughing and shortness of breath.

People can be diagnosed with CWP with chest x-rays. However, a doctor will also get a patient's occupational history to determine if they've been exposed to coal dust at any point in their life.

Although the complications of CWP can be treated in order to help improve a person's quality of life, no treatment has been proven to be effective. That's why it's essential for employers to take steps to prevent black lung disease by providing proper ventilation and limiting the amount of dust to which employees are exposed.

There is a Federal Black Lung Program that provides compensation to people who are determined to be totally disabled by the disease and survivors of those who have died from it.

If you or a loved one is suffering from black lung disease or other medical condition that was caused by working with coal, it's essential to find out what your rights to compensation are. An experienced California workers' compensation attorney can provide guidance and information.

Source: WebMD, "Black Lung Disease - Topic Overview," accessed July 13, 2017

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