Black lung is prevalent in Appalachia. Vulnerable coal miners are wary that the rapid spread and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 can easily wipe their community out.
Jimmy Moore, a 74-year old black lung patient in Shelby Gap, Kentucky, does not know when the coronavirus gets to their area. However, if it does, ” It’s probably just going to wipe us out.” he said. Moore worked in the mines for 22 years and retired in 2000. His 51-year-old son also has a more severe case of black lung.
Two workers in Pennsylvania were tested positive for the coronavirus. The population has an increased risk of getting COVID-19 due to those already inflicted with a black lung.
The Black Lung
Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis (CWP), commonly known as black lung, is the scarring of the lungs due to years of inhalation of coal dust. Center for Disease Control estimates that at least 1 in ten underground miners has black lungs.
According to Dr. Leonard Go, a physician and black lung researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University, cases of black lung has started resurging in the 1990s, after 20 years of decline. Go, suspects, that changes in mining technology that creates more dust from the rock has caused the increase of black lung incidences.
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