People who mine coal have particular skills and needs. Many miners find themselves with breathing issues years into their career. The conditions of the mining professions may be to blame. 

Coal miners have strict safety protocols that they should follow to help prevent injuries and illnesses on the job. However, there are times when safety measures fail and infections become a problem. Explore some of the most common breathing illnesses that workers should look out for in and outside of the mine. 

Safety issues with mining 

Pittsburgh area residents are no strangers to the mining industry. Over the decades, government-enacted standards aim to protect miners from risky physical injuries. However, the confines of the mine and the dust created when working may cause dangerous particles to enter the respiratory system and cause serious problems. Advancements in improving ventilation shafts and personal breathing equipment aim to help protect the lungs, but are they enough? 

Respiratory issues associated with coal mines 

After years of working in the mines, the fumes from diesel equipment and the dust particles underground begin to settle deep within workers’ lungs. If there is not early intervention in the way of medication or limiting exposure, these particles may start to infect lung tissue. Two of the most common diseases miners deal with are black lung (pneumoconiosis) and silicosis. In both cases, while medical intervention may help ease the symptoms, these treatments do not provide a cure. Over time, these conditions may cause respiratory failure or lung cancer. 

Preventing further lung damage 

The only way to keep dust and chemical inhalants from turning into chronic and debilitating problems is to practice moderate exposure. This means limiting time in the mines and around the machinery producing the particles. Adhering to personal respiratory equipment protocols may also help in protecting the lungs against exposure to dangerous particles. 

The medical prognosis for miners is not always favorable, even with limited exposure. If there is a suspicion that mining has resulted in breathing difficulties, a thorough checkup with a doctor and may prove beneficial.