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WHEREAS, on April 5, 2010, 29 miners died in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in Raleigh County, West Virginia; and
WHEREAS, of the 24 miners whose lungs were examined, 17 had evidence of Black Lung Disease; and
WHEREAS, protecting miners from exposure to coal and rock dust is a form of coal mine safety; and
WHEREAS, the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster highlighted both the need for increased attention to coal mine safety and the resurgence in Black Lung Disease; and
WHEREAS, recent research indicates that one in five coal miners in Central Appalachia, including Virginia, who have worked at least 25 years in coal mines may have Black Lung Disease; and
WHEREAS, there is increasing incidence of complicated Black Lung Disease (also called Progressive Massive Fibrosis or PMF) in younger miners with less time in the mines, including 5% of miners in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia; and
WHEREAS, research published in a February 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and conducted at Stone Mountain Health Services, located in Southwest Virginia, identified “the largest cluster of PMF reported in the scientific literature” and over 12% of the miners with PMF in this study were still working; and
WHEREAS, early detection of both Black Lung Disease and PMF can help miners protect themselves and improve their quality of life, and screenings are available in federally-funded Black Lung Clinics, including those located in Southwest Virginia;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize April 5, 2019, as COAL MINE SAFETY AND BLACK LUNG DISEASE AWARENESS DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.