Black lung victims to receive assistance
A free Black Lung Clinic will be held Aug. 21 at the Middlesboro Community Center (Old YMCA building) on 30th Street. The clinic will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Tennessee Black Lung Clinic at Community Health of East Tennessee will hold the free workshop to assist affected persons in the claims process. Though Community Health has since expanded into a range of services, it was initially created as a Federal Black Lung Program in 1980.
According to the Tennessee Black Lung Staff of Community Health, the workshop will provide those interested in what is needed to file for an exam. The application takes roughly and one-and-a-half hours to complete, and will entitle valid claimants to a free examination by the U.S. Department of Labor.
After examination, the diagnosis will be made and the severity of the condition will be determined. Depending on the severity of individual cases, the Tennessee Black Lung Clinic of Community Health of East Tennessee will then assist complainants in getting the benefits they are entitled.
Though many of the coal mines of East Tennessee have long grown silent, the victims of mining associated health issues are still with us. Be they the former miners themselves or their widows and family members, the devastating effects of what is known as “black lung” are far reaching.
Black lung disease, also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) is caused by long-term exposure to coal dust. It is common among coal miners and others who work with coal and is similar to silicosis and the long-term effects of tobacco smoking. Inhaled dust progressively builds up in the lungs and is unable to be removed by the body. This leads to inflammation, fibrosis and in the worst cases, necrosis or lung tissue death.
There are currently about 42,000 underground coal miners actively working in the United States. In the past ten years, 10,000 American miners have died from CWP. Although this disease is preventable, many miners are still developing advanced and severe cases.
In the 40 years since the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 became law, the proportion of miners with black lung disease has gone down by about 90 percent. But the downward trend of this disease in coal miners has stopped. Rates of black lung are on the rise, and have almost doubled in the last 10 years.
Like those who have worked in asbestos and other hazardous substances, coal miners and their families are entitled to benefits from the miners’ former employers.
The Black Lung Staff from Community Health are scheduled to meet with those interested in filing for Federal Black Lung Benefits.
For appointments or further information call 423-563-1015 or 423- 563-1009.