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What illnesses do you face if you work in a coal mine?

Since the early days of the country, families in Illinois and other coal-rich states have made their living digging coal out of the ground. Back in the mining heyday of the late 1800s, mining-related illnesses such as Black Lung Disease were rampant, due to a lack of safety equipment and procedures. Even today, Black Lung Disease still affects many of those in mining, but it is known by a different name. If you work in one of these mines, you may be at risk of several types of diseases related to the industry.

The majority of the dangers involving mining-related illnesses comes from underground mines, although surface mining can also present some risk. According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, more than 75 percent of the coal mined in the state comes from deeper underground mines.

The most common respiratory diseases you may face from coal mining, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include silicosis and coal workers' pneumoconiosis. Silicosis is caused by breathing in particles from rock dust, and is most frequently seen among drillers working at surface mines and underground mine roof bolters. Coal workers' pneumoconiosis is the official name for Black Lung, caused by inhaling coal dust. Both conditions scar the lung tissue and may become progressively worse. You may have masses that appear as shadows in your lungs during X-rays, which appear denser during later progression of the disease. This is known as progressive massive fibrosis.

You will need to take the necessary safety precautions to reduce your risk of developing a mining-related disease, including wearing breathing masks and utilizing industrial air filters and fans. Knowing your workers' compensation rights is also important. This information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.

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