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Regulations meant to reduce black lung disease at risk

Sen. Bob Case, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, joined other Democrat senators to protest the possibility that the Mine Safety and Health Administration's Respirable Dust Rule could be altered or eliminated. The senators sent a letter to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to explain the importance of the dust rule for protecting coal miners from coal dust that causes the incurable and sometimes fatal black lung disease.

The appearance of the Respirable Dust Rule on a list of regulations that the Trump administration wants to re-evaluate prompted the senators to highlight the need to protect miners' health. The rule currently sets the acceptable amount of coal dust in the air to 1.5 milligrams per cubic meter. This threshold went into effect three years ago and reduced the safety threshold from 2.0 milligrams per cubic meter. In their letter, the senators described how at least 10 years would be needed to determine the efficacy of the rule for reducing sickness among workers.

A Republican senator also sent the labor secretary a separate letter that supported protecting workers' health. This letter expressed the senator's concern about increasing reports of black lung disease among miners. She made clear her opposition to changes that would weaken air quality protections for coal miners.

When an occupational disease affects a person, workers' compensation benefits could provide payment for medical care, lost wages and disability. Sometimes it can be difficult for an individual who is experiencing difficulties to prove that a workplace environment caused a disease. The representation of an attorney might help someone obtain an unbiased medical evaluation and prepare an insurance claim. A lawyer could also investigate whether inspectors have cited the employer for any health and safety violations. This information could support litigation meant to relieve the person's financial hardship.

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