Lung-function impairment among US underground coal miners, 2005 to 2009: geographic patterns and association with coal workers' pneumoconiosis

J Occup Environ Med. 2013 Jul;55(7):846-50. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31828dc985.


Objective: To investigate contemporary geographic distributions of lung-function impairment and radiographic evidence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) and their associations.

Methods: From 2005 to 2009, 6373 underground coal miners completed a health survey, including spirometry testing and chest radiography. Coal workers' pneumoconiosis and progressive massive fibrosis were determined by NIOSH B readers, using the International Labour Office classification. Prevalences of CWP and spirometry less than lower normal limits were mapped by county, and their association assessed.

Results: The prevalences of abnormal spirometry results and CWP were 13.1% and 4.0%, respectively. Counties with elevated prevalences for both the outcomes were located in contiguous areas of southeastern Kentucky, western Virginia, southern West Virginia, and eastern Pennsylvania. Prevalence of abnormal spirometry results increases with increasing category of simple CWP and progressive massive fibrosis.

Conclusions: Abnormal spirometry in coal miners is associated with CWP; these two health outcomes have similar geographic distributions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Coal Mining*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnosis
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumoconiosis / epidemiology*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiography
  • Spirometry
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vital Capacity
  • Young Adult