Aug. 11—New River Health will combine forces with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct a free Black Lung/Respiratory Health Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 22, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the New River Convention Center.

All miners and members of the public are invited to take advantage of the event, during which free testing will be available.

The NIOSH mobile health unit will conduct free black lung screenings. The exam takes about 30 minutes and includes black lung spirometry, a black lung 6-minute walking test, black lung benefits counseling and black lung filing help. Anyone wishing to take advantage of the free tests is asked to bring work records.

"If you think you have COPD, asthma or other breathing challenges, we can help," New River Health officials stated in a press release.

"According to an advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018, it's estimated that 20 percent of coal miners in Central Appalachia are suffering from black lung — the highest rate detected in more than 25 years. One in 20 of the region's coal miners are living with the most severe form of the condition," Caity Coyne, of West Virginia Watch, reported earlier this month.

"In recent years, there has been an uptick in the number of miners diagnosed with black lung, and they're developing it at younger ages than ever before. This is due to the coal seams mined today, unlike in the past when it was abundant and openly accessible, being shielded by layers of silica-bearing sandstone."

Call or text 304-469-2905 for additional details.

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