Coal miners would be protected from black lung disease under proposed silica rule

The Labor Department is proposing a new rule limiting miners’ exposure to silica — a toxic dust created by cutting into rock that has been linked to a recent epidemic of severe black lung disease among coal miners.

“The purpose of this proposed rule is simple: prevent more miners from suffering from debilitating and deadly occupational illnesses by reducing their exposure to silica dust,” Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson said in a statement.

The move comes after decades of regulatory inaction highlighted in an NPR/FRONTLINE investigation in 2018.

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