Respiratory symptoms and spirometry in experienced coal miners: effects of both distant and recent coal mine dust exposures

Am J Ind Med. 1997 Sep;32(3):268-74. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199709)32:3<268::aid-ajim13>;2-t.


The goal of this study was to determine whether respiratory symptoms were associated with the lower concentrations of respirable coal mine dust that were required by the U.S. Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (CMHSA) of 1969. The subjects were 1,866 male miners who had participated in the National Study of Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis (NSCWP) and been tested at least twice, initially in either Round 1 (R1) (1969-71) or Round 2 (R2) (1972-75) and then finally in Round 4 (R4) (1985-88). Self-reported information elicited with a standardized questionnaire was used to determine the presence at the final round (i.e., R4) of chronic bronchitis, shortness of breath, and wheeze. Cumulative coal mine dust exposure was characterized for both the pre- and post-CMHSA periods. Controlling for age and other potential confounders, increased risks for the symptoms were associated with higher levels of both measurements of exposure. Moreover, the adverse effects of the lower, post-CMHSA exposure were evident for shortness of breath and wheeze especially among subjects who had little pre-CMHSA coal mining experience. These findings provide additional evidence of the limitations of the current 2.0 mg/m3 coal mine dust standard to prevent respiratory disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Coal / adverse effects*
  • Coal Mining / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Coal Mining / standards
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / standards
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Spirometry*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United States


  • Coal
  • Dust