Exposure-response analysis of mortality among coal miners in the United States

Am J Ind Med. 1995 Aug;28(2):167-84. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700280203.


The quantitative relationship between exposure to respirable coal mine dust and mortality from nonmalignant respiratory diseases was investigated in a study of 8,878 working male coal miners who were medically examined from 1969 to 1971 and followed to 1979. Exposure-related mortality was evaluated using Cox proportional hazards modeling for underlying or contributing causes of death and modified lifetable methods for underlying causes. For pneumoconiosis mortality, the lifetable analyses showed increasing standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) with increasing cumulative exposure category. Significant exposure-response relationships for mortality from pneumoconiosis (p < 0.001) and from chronic bronchitis or emphysema (p < 0.05) were observed in the proportional hazards models after controlling for age and smoking. No exposure-related increases in lung cancer or stomach cancer were observed. Pneumoconiosis mortality was found to vary significantly by the rank of coal dust to which miners were exposed. Miners exposed at or below the current U.S. coal dust standard of 2 mg/m3 over a working lifetime, based on these analyses, have an elevated risk of dying from pneumoconiosis or from chronic bronchitis or emphysema.

MeSH terms

  • Coal Mining*
  • Humans
  • Life Tables
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality*
  • United States