Exposure to coal mine dust has long been associated with lung diseases, including coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), more widely known as black lung disease. Though CWP rates declined in the latter decades of the 20th century, since 2000 there has been an unexpected increase in the disease’s prevalence and severity. In 2014, the Mining Safety and Health Administration issued a rule that lowered allowable exposure limits to respirable coal mine dust and required the use of different monitoring technology and sampling protocols for dust exposure.
Subsequently, at the request of Congress, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conducted a study to assess the efficacy of monitoring and sampling approaches that are used to guide decisions about controlling exposure to coal mine dust. A new report resulting from the study includes conclusions and recommendations on optimal monitoring and sampling strategies for reducing miners’ dust exposure and identifies important research gaps.