'History Going in the Wrong Direction' as Worst Form of Black Lung Disease Rises Again

Spotlighting the terrible human impact of the nation’s continued reliance on coal, new research shows the most severe form of black lung disease, progressive massive fibrosis (PMF), is on the rise—big time.

“This is history going in the wrong direction,” said lead researcher Kirsten S. Almberg, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The findings are based on information from U.S. Department of Labor, which has the data on former miners seeking benefits from the Federal Black Lung Program.

From when that program began in 1970 until 2016, 4,679 miners were determined to have PMF. Yet half of those cases—2,318l—were identified since 2000.

The overall trend was not a shock to the researchers, given that National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), using surveillance data of active coal miners, found a similar upward trend in 2014.