News

Medical expert to begin review of black lung x-rays

JUST six months ago, US black lung specialist Dr Robert Cohen quoted an academic who said Australia had eliminated the disease.

"Australia was always held up to us as a shining example of what could be done if proper attention was paid to dust control," Dr Cohen said.

Now, six months and six confirmed Queensland cases later, Dr Cohen has been tasked to investigate what went wrong in the underground coal mines.

He's begun examining x-rays, alongside Professor Malcolm Sim from the Monash Centre for Occup- ational and Environmental Health, to decipher the extent of the issue.

"We'll review some 500 to a thousand x-rays to see what's going on," he said.

Dr Cohen said it was "very difficult" to tell the difference between black lung and emphysema caused by smoking.

He said he was too early in his research to say if that was a contributing factor to the lack of detection of black lung cases in Queensland.

"I will say that... it seems that people may not have been looking as carefully as they should have," he said.

"I think sometimes people get complacent and they think everything is okay and they don't look as hard as they need to."

Dr Cohen said the period of time the disease took to develop depended on the intensity of dust exposure.

"It's a pretty gradual, insidious process that creeps up on people," he said.

"The shortest period of time that I've seen has been four or five years (working)... but 10 or 15 years is an average timeframe before people might develop some symptoms."

One of the coal mine workers diagnosed in Queensland had been working underground for just eight years.

Dr Cohen said in the US, while 3% of miners developed the disease on average, a much smaller percentage developed the "disabling" black lung, preventing them from work.

Dr Cohen said there had also been a degree of complacency about black lung in the US.

"We had a situation where the rates of disease were declining. We had a dust control law passed in 1970," he said.

"Then, there was an upturn between 1990 and the present, we had a doubling in the rates of disease."


Symptoms

  • Coughing up phlegm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • If the disease progresses, sufferers can be short of breath even during rest.
Gympie Times

Topics:  black lung disease, gympie



Who's on Meals on Wheels duty?

HOME DELIVERY: Gympie Meals on Wheels deliver nutritious meals five days a week.

Gympie Meals on Wheels roster for week ending September 30

Tips and trivia: Things you didn't know about tomatoes

Jody Allen loves one spring crop more than any other.

Local Partners

'Highly unlikely' Brad Pitt will face prosecution

It is highly unlikely that Brad Pitt will be prosecuted

WATCH: Justin Bieber grabbed in Germany

A video has emerged of singer Justin Bieber being attacked

Why The Wrong Girl is right for Jessica Marais

Jessica Marais and Ian Meadows in a scene from the TV series The Wrong Girl.

ACTOR makes the sometimes awkward character her own in new comedy.

What's on the small screen this week

Jessica Marais in a scene from the TV series The Wrong Girl.

A NEW romantic comedy debuts while footy codes ramp up for finals.

Airbourne talk drop bears, beer and taxes

Airbourne have a new album coming out and a new tour on the way.  Photo Contributed

Airbourne release album for the aussie battler

Pippa Middleton had 3000 private photos stolen

Author Pippa Middleton

Author's account hacked to access 3000 private photos

Highway upgrade drives momentum in affordable market

Accessibility and affordability are keeping interest high

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Rocky proves prime real estate in latest REIQ report

Kas Woch sold this Wood St home in Depot Hill for $107,000 in August.

A new investor's market as Rocky house prices hit lowest in state