Exposure-response relationships for coal mine dust and obstructive lung disease following enactment of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969

Am J Ind Med. 1992;21(5):715-34. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700210511.


Underground U.S. coal miners were studied cross-sectionally for the association of respirable coal mine dust exposure with pulmonary function and symptoms of airways obstruction. The study group included 1,185 miners participating in Round 4 of the National Study of Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis who had started mining in or after 1970 when comprehensive exposure regulations first came into effect. Quantitative estimates of cumulative exposure, derived using respirable dust measurements taken by the Mine Safety and Health Administration over the entire study period, were used in linear and logistic regression models on indicators of pulmonary function and chest symptoms while controlling for smoking status, pack-years, and other potential confounders. Statistically significant associations between log cumulative exposure and decrements in FVC, FEV1, and FEV1/FVC were observed. In logistic models, statistically significant associations of cumulative exposure with increasing prevalence of FEV1 and FEV1/FVC less than 80% predicted and symptoms including chronic phlegm, chronic bronchitis, breathlessness, wheeze, and wheeze with shortness of breath were found. It is concluded that exposures to respirable coal mine dust present in U.S. mines since 1970 continue to affect respiratory health in underground miners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchitis / etiology
  • Bronchitis / physiopathology
  • Coal / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / etiology*
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mining / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking
  • United States
  • Vital Capacity


  • Coal
  • Dust