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Study looks at ways to control dust coal miners breathe

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – A new report examines the way coal dust inhaled by miners is regulated as health and safety officials grapple with an increase in cases of severe black lung disease in Appalachia.

The National Academy of Sciences report released Thursday explores dust sampling approaches and limiting miners’ exposure. Controlling dust exposure is critical to preventing black lung disease, or pneumoconiosis. The disease has killed about 77,000 coal miners since 1968.

Deaths have declined since the ’70s, but since 2000 there has been an increase in the number of rapidly progressing cases in certain regions, including central Appalachia.

The report calls for a comprehensive study with industry, unions and the government to identify key challenges in implementing better dust monitoring techniques. Congress directed the academy to conduct the study in 2016.

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