Peter Gibson writes in The Conversation (21.4.16) about how the so-called ‘black lung’ disease could have again become a health problem for coal miners, after several cases were recently identified in Queensland mining communities.
‘The name black lung says it all. When miners inhale excessive amounts of coal dust, the fine air filtration system of the lungs sieves out the dust, which then remains permanently in the lung. These deposits can even be seen with the naked eye if the lungs are removed from the body, hence the name.
‘The sinister part is the slow progressing breathing disorder that develops over many years due to excessive lung inflammation and scarring that is triggered by coal mine dust. This disease, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis or black lung, is preventable and was widely considered a thing of the past in Australian miners.
‘But just before Christmas 2015, people were shocked to hear about newly confirmed cases of black lung in Queensland miners. Governments responded swiftly to investigate the problem, with inquiries established by the Queensland government and the federal senate.’