A new report indicates that new cases of black lung disease have been steadily rising since the 1990s, especially in Appalachian regions. The disease, which is entirely preventable, occurs through overexposure to coal dust which causes extreme respiratory distress, and eventually, death. Researchers assessed the number of black lung cases among former U.S. coal miners applying for Federal Black Lung Program benefits between 1970 and 2016. Among 314,000 miners who applied for benefits during the 46-year period, the research team found 4,679 cases of confirmed progressive massive fibrosis, with 2,474 of these representing claims filed since 1996. The yearly number of cases fell from 404 in 1978 to 18 in 1988 but then began increasing each year, with 383 confirmed cases in 2014.
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