Case Study II
What is Black Lung Disease?
If you travel on the turnpike starting in Philadelphia and go west towards the Oregon Coast you could pass through the 10 states that account for 90 percent of the country's coal reserves; Wyoming, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Montana, Kentucky, Ohio, Colorado, Texas and Indiana. Of these 10 states four stand out as having the highest concentration of Black Lung Disease. 61.5 – 80.0 percent of the cases of this disease occur in; West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. Black Lung also known as Coal worker's pneumoconiosis (CMP) can be defined as the accumulation of coal dust in the lungs and the tissue's reaction to its presence. The disease is divided into two categories: simple coal worker’s pneumoconiosis and complicated coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, or pulmonary massive fibrosis, depending on the extent of the disease. The most common term used for Black Lung Disease is silicosis; the word comes from the Greek word silex, meaning flint. It is thought to be the world’s oldest known occupational disease. The features of silicosis are seen in X-ray images as large, conglomerates or masses of nodules in both the middle and upper lung regions. Coal miners develop these nodules after years of inhaling the coal dust that is the major hazard of their occupation. The risk of getting coal worker's pneumoconiosis depends on how long a person has been around coal dust. Most people with this disease are older than 50. Smoking does not increase the risk of developing this disease, but it does create additional harmful effects to the lungs. Simple coal worker’s silicosis is seen on a chest X-ray as widespread nodules measuring 2-5 mm in diameter that occur mostly in the middle and upper lung zones. The coal dust collects around the small airways or bronchioles of the lungs and causes fibrosis to develop. Simple coal workers' pneumoconiosis usually does not cause symptoms. Many people with this...
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