After a federal Court of Appeals rejected an industry-led challenge last month, a new federal rule to reduce coal miners’ exposure to dangerous dust goes into effect Monday.
In 2009, the Mine Safety and Health Administration began a campaign to end black lung disease, which is caused by breathing in large amounts of coal dust. The disease was in decline for decades but has experienced a recent resurgence.
“This disease is far from over,” MSHA Secretary Joe Main said. “Miners have suffered, families have suffered from this disease, and the time has come to fix this problem. And implementation of this rule will help us get there.”
Part of MSHA’s campaign includes federal rules to keep better track of the coal dust to which miners are exposed. Companies now have to take more dust samples, as well as sample for an entire shift. Over the next few months, coal miners working in the jobs with the most dust will have to wear small continuous personal dust monitors.