From Living On Earth (Bruce Gellerman):

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GELLERMAN: Investigators found that the mine’s owner – Massey Energy – operated the Upper Big Branch in “a profoundly reckless manner.” The report also provides insight into another cause of needless deaths among coal miners: black lung. Living on Earth’s Jeff Young reports the old scourge of coal mining is back with a vengeance.

YOUNG: Gary Quarles is a West Virginia coal miner, as was his father, his grandfather, and his son, Gary Wayne Quarles. Gary Wayne was one of the 29 miners killed in the explosion in Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine. Early this year, Quarles learned that even before the explosion, his son was likely already doomed to suffer because of his work in the mines.

QUARLES: Gary Wayne had been in the mines for 13 years and from the autopsy report, at 34 years old, he already had black lung.

YOUNG: Black lung, technically coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, is caused by breathing coal dust. Since the early 70s, regulatory controls on dust greatly reduced the number of cases. But the lungs of the Upper Big Branch Mine victims show stark evidence that black lung is back.

MCATEER: Some 71% had some level of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis.

YOUNG: That’s Wheeling Jesuit University Vice President Davitt McAteer, a mine safety expert who directed the independent investigation of the disaster. McAteer says the autopsies show a disturbing rate of the disease.

MCATEER: But it’s really a sad fact when we have other countries around the world that have virtually eliminated black lung that we now are seeing a reemergence of this dreaded disease for the miners.

YOUNG: McAteer’s evidence supports what pulmonologists and occupational health experts have been tracking in recent years: a dismaying increase in black lung cases. For decades, West Virginia University professor and pulmonologist Dr. Edward Petsonk had studied the decline in black lung,

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