A federal agency's effort to reduce cases of black lung disease among coal miners by tightening standards on mine dust levels is based on sound science, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO report, released August 17, may help clear the way for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to reduce the permissible exposure limit to coal dust from 2.0 mg/m3 to 1.0 mg/m3.
The respirable dust standard for coal mines was established with passage of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969. The prevalence of black lung declined steeply between 1970 and the late 1990s, but it has since rebounded.
Mitka M. Black Lung Disease. JAMA. 2012;308(14):1421. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13442