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Concept: Coal mining


Coal workers' pneumoconiosis, also known as “black lung disease,” is an occupational lung disease caused by overexposure to respirable coal mine dust. Inhaled dust leads to inflammation and fibrosis in the lungs, and coal workers' pneumoconiosis can be a debilitating disease. The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 (Coal Act),* amended in 1977, established dust limits for U.S. coal mines and created the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-administered Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program with the goal of reducing the incidence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis and eliminating its most severe form, progressive massive fibrosis (PMF),(ā€ ) which can be lethal. The prevalence of PMF fell sharply after implementation of the Coal Act and reached historic lows in the 1990s, with 31 unique cases identified by the Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program during 1990-1999. Since then, a resurgence of the disease has occurred, notably in central Appalachia (Figure 1) (1,2). This report describes a cluster of 60 cases of PMF identified in current and former coal miners at a single eastern Kentucky radiology practice during January 2015-August 2016. This cluster was not discovered through the national surveillance program. This ongoing outbreak highlights an urgent need for effective dust control in coal mines to prevent coal workers' pneumoconiosis, and for improved surveillance to promptly identify the early stages of the disease and stop its progression to PMF.

Concepts: Asthma, Anthracite, Kentucky, Pulmonology, Coal mining, Epidemiology, Coal, Occupational safety and health


This paper studies the occupational safety and health management methods as well as risk control technology associated with the coal mining industry, including daily management of occupational safety and health, identification and assessment of risks, early warning and dynamic monitoring of risks, etc.; also, a B/S mode software (Geting Coal Mine, Jining, Shandong, China), i.e., Coal Mine Occupational Safety and Health Management and Risk Control System, is developed to attain the aforementioned objectives, namely promoting the coal mine occupational safety and health management based on early warning and dynamic monitoring of risks. Furthermore, the practical effectiveness and the associated pattern for applying this software package to coal mining is analyzed. The study indicates that the presently developed coal mine occupational safety and health management and risk control technology and the associated software can support the occupational safety and health management efforts in coal mines in a standardized and effective manner. It can also control the accident risks scientifically and effectively; its effective implementation can further improve the coal mine occupational safety and health management mechanism, and further enhance the risk management approaches. Besides, its implementation indicates that the occupational safety and health management and risk control technology has been established based on a benign cycle involving dynamic feedback and scientific development, which can provide a reliable assurance to the safe operation of coal mines.

Concepts: Anthracite, Mining accident, Occupational safety and health, History of coal mining, Management, Risk management, Coal, Coal mining


While several thousand square kilometers of land area have been subject to surface mining in the Central Appalachians, no reliable estimate exists for how much coal is produced per unit landscape disturbance. We provide this estimate using regional satellite-derived mine delineations and historical county-level coal production data for the period 1985-2005, and further relate the aerial extent of mining disturbance to stream impairment and loss of ecosystem carbon sequestration potential. To meet current US coal demands, an area the size of Washington DC would need to be mined every 81 days. A one-year supply of coal would result in āˆ¼2,300 km of stream impairment and a loss of ecosystem carbon sequestration capacity comparable to the global warming potential of >33,000 US homes. For the first time, the environmental impacts of surface coal mining can be directly scaled with coal production rates.

Concepts: Coal mining, Kilometre, Methane, Anthracite, Conversion of units, Global warming, Carbon dioxide, Coal


Unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) is expanding globally, with Australia expanding development in the form of coal seam gas (CSG). Residents and other interest groups have voiced concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts related to CSG. This paper compares objective health outcomes from three study areas in Queensland, Australia to examine potential environmentally-related health impacts.

Concepts: Ammonia, Coalbed methane, Coal mining, Carbon monoxide, Methane, Petroleum, Natural gas, Coal


Given the current insatiable demand for coal to build and fuel the world’s burgeoning cities the debate about mining-related social, environmental and health injustices remains eminently salient. Furthermore, the core issues appear universally consistent. This paper combines the theoretical base for defining these injustices with reports in the international health literature about the impact of coal mining on local communities. It explores and analyses mechanisms of coal mining related injustice, conflicting priorities and power asymmetries between political and industry interests versus inhabitants of mining communities, and asks what would be required for considerations of health to take precedence over wealth.

Concepts: Coal mining, The Current, The Core, English-language films, Coal, Political philosophy


Previous research on public health consequences of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining has been limited by the observational nature of the data. The current study used propensity scores, a method designed to overcome this limitation, to draw more confident causal inferences about mining effects on respiratory health using non-experimental data. These data come from a health survey of 682 adults residing in two rural areas of Virginia, USA characterized by the presence or absence of MTR mining. Persons with a history of occupational exposure as coal miners were excluded. Nine covariates including age, sex, current and former smoking, overweight, obesity, high school education, college education, and exposure to coal as a home-heating source were selected to estimate propensity scores. Propensity scores were tested for balance and then used as weights to create quasi-experimental exposed and unexposed groups. Results indicated that persons in the mountaintop mining group had significantly (pā€‰<ā€‰0.0001) elevated prevalence of respiratory symptoms and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The results suggest that impaired respiratory health results from exposure to MTR environments and not from other risks.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Mountaintop removal mining, Tobacco smoking, Mining, Asthma, Coal mining, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Coal


In the context of underground coal mining industry, the increased economic issues regarding implementation of additional safety measure systems, along with growing public awareness to ensure high level of workers safety, have put great pressure on the managers towards finding the best solution to ensure safe as well as economically viable alternative selection. Risk-based decision support system plays an important role in finding such solutions amongst candidate alternatives with respect to multiple decision criteria. Therefore, in this paper, a unified risk-based decision-making methodology has been proposed for selecting an appropriate safety measure system in relation to an underground coal mining industry with respect to multiple risk criteria such as financial risk, operating risk, and maintenance risk. The proposed methodology uses interval-valued fuzzy set theory for modelling vagueness and subjectivity in the estimates of fuzzy risk ratings for making appropriate decision. The methodology is based on the aggregative fuzzy risk analysis and multi-criteria decision making. The selection decisions are made within the context of understanding the total integrated risk that is likely to incur while adapting the particular safety system alternative. Effectiveness of the proposed methodology has been validated through a real-time case study. The result in the context of final priority ranking is seemed fairly consistent.

Concepts: Fuzzy logic, Decision support system, Decision engineering, Coal, Decision making, Coal mining, Risk, Decision theory


Press disturbances are stressors that are extended or ongoing relative to the generation times of community members, and, due to their longevity, have the potential to alter communities beyond the possibility of recovery. They also provide key opportunities to investigate ecological resilience and to probe biological limits in the face of prolonged stressors. The underground coal mine fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania has been burning since 1962 and severely alters the overlying surface soils by elevating temperatures and depositing coal combustion pollutants. As the fire burns along the coal seams to disturb new soils, previously disturbed soils return to ambient temperatures, resulting in a chronosequence of fire impact. We used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to examine bacterial and archaeal soil community responses along two active fire fronts in Centralia, and investigated the influences of assembly processes (selection, dispersal and drift) on community outcomes. The hottest soils harbored the most variable and divergent communities, despite their reduced diversity. Recovered soils converged toward similar community structures, demonstrating resilience within 10-20 years and exhibiting near-complete return to reference communities. Measured soil properties (selection), local dispersal, and neutral community assembly models could not explain the divergences of communities observed at temperature extremes, yet beta-null modeling suggested that communities at temperature extremes follow niche-based processes rather than null. We hypothesize that priority effects from responsive seed bank transitions may be key in explaining the multiple equilibria observed among communities at extreme temperatures. These results suggest that soils generally have an intrinsic capacity for robustness to varied disturbances, even to press disturbances considered to be ‘extreme’, compounded, or incongruent with natural conditions.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 10 March 2017; doi:10.1038/ismej.2017.1.

Concepts: Soil, Thermodynamics, Temperature, Archaea, Coal mining, Coal, Ribosomal RNA, 16S ribosomal RNA


Coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), as part of the spectrum of coal mine dust lung disease (CMDLD), is a preventable but incurable lung disease that can be complicated by respiratory failure and death. Recent increases in coal production from the financial incentive of economic growth lead to higher respirable coal and quartz dust levels, often associated with mechanization of longwall coal mining. In Australia, the observed increase in the number of new CWP diagnoses since the year 2000 has necessitated a review of recommended respirable dust exposure limits, where exposure limits and monitoring protocols should ideally be standardized. Evidence that considers the regulation of engineering dust controls in the mines is lacking even in high-income countries, despite this being the primary preventative measure. Also, it is a global public health priority for at-risk miners to be systemically screened to detect early changes of CWP and to include confirmed patients within a central registry; a task limited by financial constraints in less developed countries. Characteristic X-ray changes are usually categorized using the International Labour Office classification, although future evaluation by low-dose HRCT) chest scanning may allow for CWP detection and thus avoidance of further exposure, at an earlier stage. Preclinical animal and human organoid-based models are required to explore potential re-purposing of anti-fibrotic and related agents with potential efficacy. Epidemiological patterns and the assessment of molecular and genetic biomarkers may further enhance our capacity to identify susceptible individuals to the inhalation of coal dust in the modern era.

Concepts: Mining accident, Firedamp, Epidemiology, Mining, Pulmonology, Longwall mining, Coal mining, Coal


Non-medical prescription opioid use is a growing public health concern. Social media is an emerging tool to understand health attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

Concepts: Coal mining, Sociology, Public health, Opioid