The Morgantown History Museum held a reception Saturday to raise awareness for their "Black Lung Research in Morgantown: Impact on a Nation of Miners" exhibit.
The exhibit, presented by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), tells the tales of West Virginia coal miners with black lung over the past 40 years, and how progress has been made to raise awareness of the condition nationwide.
"Coal mining is something that's real in West Virginia," said Anita Wolfe, public health analyst for NIOSH. "This disease coal miners are getting every day, coal worker's pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, is also something that's very real in West Virginia.
According to the 2007 Work-Related Lung Disease Surveillance Report, 2,005 West Virginia miners died from black lung between 1995 and 2004. Overall, more than 10,400 Americans died from black lung during that time period. United Mine Workers of America estimates 1,500 former coal miners die each year from the disease. There is, currently, no specific treatment for the disease.
Black lung is, primarily, caused by inhaling the minerals in coal dust. When severe, the diseases often lead to lung impairment, disability, and premature death.
The exhibit is available until Dec. 14, and is free and open to the public.