U.S. Senator Bob Casey is laying out a plan to reduce a claims backlog that has impacted residents throughout the region. He recently chaired a hearing to explore the challenges that former coal miners are dealing with.
Dr. Kevin Gibson of the UPMC Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care Medicine department explains that although the term “black lung disease” is the popular name for the disease, it “doesn’t really capture how we think of the disease in the medical field.” According to him, black lung is more accurately described as two different types of disease.
“Simple pneumoconiosis is a problem where you develop very, very tiny nodules in the lung, which, generally speaking, are not associated with much in the way of symptoms. The severe disease, the serious disease, is what we call complex pneumoconiosis, or another term we use to describe it is progressive massive fibrosis. Those patients usually go on to respiratory failure, and those are the folks that usually die from the disease. Fortunately, they represent a relatively small percentage of people who are exposed.”