Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Radiologists Didn't Worry about Black Lung: AMAQ

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Radiologists Didn't Worry about Black Lung: AMAQ

Article excerpt

Byline: Geoff Egan Geoff.Egan@apn.com.au

QUEENSLAND'S top medical association believes radiologists considered black lung as improbable as the near-eradicated polio before the disease reappeared.

Until it failed, doctors believed the Queensland Coal Mine Workers' Health Scheme was so effective they did not think they needed to worry about the disease.

Similarly, the Queensland Resources Council says the industry "placed enormous faith" in the QCMWHS to ensure coal dust control measures were working.

These submissions were made to the Queensland parliamentary inquiry into Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis (CWP).

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Chris Zappala said radiologists believed black lung was a disease of the past.

"For example, one radiologist we spoke to said that because there had not been a case of CWP or silicosis for over 10 years, most radiologists would have placed these at the bottom of their differential list, much as a general practitioner would put polio at the bottom of theirs," his submission said.

The AMAQ submission said it was likely the number of people applying for coal mine jobs during the 2005 and 2013 mining boom had overwhelmed the QCMWHS.

"One easily identifiable reason for this breakdown is the massive changes occurring in the mining industry at this time. More workers were being employed by the industry and more coal was being extracted, which led to more dust and longer exposure time to more workers," it said.

Mining scientists have told the inquiry they are concerned with how quickly the industry reacted to new dust reduction standards and how many people may have black lung.

NSW-based dust particle scientist Brian Plush told the inquiry he believed the number of cases would increase and the disease would emerge in other states.

"The CWP cases being identified now are a small indicator of what is to come. …

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