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Emphysema severity directly linked to coal dust exposure
Date:7/23/2009

Coal dust exposure is directly linked to severity of emphysema in smokers and nonsmokers alike, according to new research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

"In this study we have shown that coal mine dust exposure is a significant predictor of emphysema severity," said Eileen Kuempel, Ph.D., a senior scientist at NIOSH and lead author of the study.

The findings, which were reported in the August 1 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (AJRCCM), highlight a health problem related to a growing industry. In the past 25 years, coal production has nearly doubled worldwide.

Dr. Kuempel and colleagues compared lung autopsy results from 722 individuals, including 616 coal miners from West Virginia and 106 non-miners from West Virginia and Vermont. Those from West Virginia were collected from consecutive autopsies from 1957 and 1973 at the Beckley Southern Appalachian Regional Hospital as part of a black lung study. Those from Vermont were taken from consecutive autopsies performed at the University of Vermont between 1972 and 1978. Age at death, race, miner/non-miner status and smoking history were established where possible, and individual exposure to coal dust was estimated using work history data and job-specific dust exposure estimates.

Pathologists Francis Green, M.D., and Val Vallyathan, Ph.D., two of the coauthors on this study, examined sections of the lungs to determine the presence and extent of emphysema. A smaller subset of the study group had their lung tissue analyzed for dust content. Emphysema was graded for type and severity.

The researchers found that cumulative exposure to respirable coal mine dust was a highly significant predictor of emphysema severity after accounting for cigarette smoking, age at death, and race. Miners tended to be older at death than non-miners due to a higher proporti
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Contact: Keely Savoie
ksavoie@thoracic.org
212-315-8620
American Thoracic Society
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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