New X-Ray Technology in Black Lung Claims

Coal miners work in some of the most dangerous conditions. Each day coal workers enter the mines, burdened with the constant threat of an explosion or collapse. Miners suffer some very traumatic injuries, yet aside from the daily threats of the mine an even more deadly risk lingers. Long-term exposure to coal dust places miners in both surface and underground mines at risk of black lung disease. According to a study done by the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program in the Division of Cancer Etiology at National Cancer Institute, about 40% of all lung cancer deaths in miners may be due to radon progeny exposure. Radioactive radon is an inert gas that migrates from soils and rocks accumulating in enclosed areas. The estimates of the hazards posed by radon have been based on the analyses of data on miners, pooling four occupational cohort studies of miners.[1]

An X-ray diagnosis can help detect the existence of black lung disease. According to the Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Labor;
“The Labor Department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs published a direct final rule and a companion proposed rule on June 13 adopting standards for administering and interpreting digital radiographs, and updating existing standards for film radiographs submitted in black lung compensation claims. The standards are derived from those adopted last year by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health for its Coal Workers’ Health Surveillance Program.” (Breeskin 1).
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Program’s Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation administers claims filed by coal miners and survivors seeking benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act.[2] The stated actions above mean both film and digital X-rays will be of significant importance in claim decisions, especially in determining the presence of black lung disease in coal miners.
If you wish to read the original article posted in the United States Department of Labor Blog (Work in Progress), please visit
The original article, “Going Digital: New X-Ray Technology in Black Lung Claims,” was written by Steven Breeskin. Steven is the director of the Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation, which is part of the Labor Department’s Office Workers’ Compensation Programs.

[1] Lubin JH, Boice JD Jr, Edling C, Hornung RW, Howe GR, Kunz E, Kusiak RA, Morrison HI, Radford EP, Samet JM, et al. Lung cancer in radon-exposed miners and estimation of risk from indoor exposure. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1995 Jun 7;87(11):817-27. PubMed PMID: 7791231.
[2] Breeskin, Steven. “Going Digital: New X-Ray Technology in Black Lung Claims.” Weblog post. (Work in Progress) The Official Blog of the United States Department of Labor. United States Department of Labor, 28 June 2013. Web. 28 June 2013. <>.