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World-class testing available for Queensland coalminers to combat black lung disease

Photo: Improved testing for black lung in Qld
Queensland coal miners will be given access to world-class testing for black lung in response to a growing number of cases of the disease.

Since its re-emergence two years ago, 21 Queensland miners have been diagnosed with the disease, prompting the state government to review testing and safety standards of coal mines.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham says the new accreditation and standards will be rolled out by the end of the year.

"The new standards will ensure quality tests, so if a coal mine worker has lung function issues, those signs will be picked up immediately," Dr Lynham said.

Lung function, or 'spirometry', tests are compulsory for all coal miners.
Since last July, miners' X-rays have been checked once in Australia and then double-checked in the United States.

Both checks will be done in Australia by the end of the year.

Black lung, or pneumoconiosis, is caused by long-term exposure to fine airborne coal dust.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane welcomed the new testing announcement on Wednesday.

"The spirometry test is a crucial examination to detect early changes in lung function, therefore it is vital the medical specialists who conduct them are accredited and trained to the highest standards," he said.

Other reforms in place include coal companies providing dust monitoring data, mining companies forced to report known cases, and retiring miners asking for a final examination.

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