CHARLESTON, WV — “Men with lungs like the Marcums’ aren’t supposed to exist. “In 1969, I publicly proclaimed that the disease would go away before we learned more about it,” said Dr. Donald Rasmussen, a pioneer in recognizing and diagnosing black lung who is still practicing, at 84, in Beckley, W.Va. “I was dead wrong.”
Throughout the coalfields of Appalachia, in small community clinics and in government labs, it has become clear: Black lung is back.
The disease’s resurgence represents a failure to deliver on a 40-year-old pledge to miners in which few are blameless, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and NPR has found. The system for monitoring dust levels is tailor-made for cheating, and mining companies haven’t been shy about doing so. Meanwhile, regulators have sometimes neglected to enforce even these porous rules.”
— Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette
— Matt Daily and Caroline Humer, Reuters