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Global Environmental & Occupational Health

List of miners killed in a mine accident
List of miners killed in a mine accident

UKRAINE: Occupational Lung Disease in Ukrainian Coal Miners

The lead U.S. scientist in this collaborative research program is Dr. Robert Cohen. Our primary Ukrainian partner institutes are the Institute of Occupational Health in Kyiv and the State Research Institute for Medico-Ecological Problems of Donbass and Coal Industry. The purpose of this 5 year research program is to evaluate the prevalence of respiratory and other occupational diseases among 7000 coal miners in the Kirovski District, Donetsk, Ukraine, who work in three different coal mines, Lidievka, Skochynsky, and Abakumov, and attend City Hospital #25 outpatient clinics. We plan to study respiratory and other diseases in this population before and after the introduction of coal mine dust abatement procedures. These procedures, a joint project between the US Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Ukrainian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and Ministry of Fuel and Energy involve the placement of water filters in the mines which will allow proper functioning of dust suppression sprays. Only one mine is scheduled to receive this intervention, the other two will serve as control mines. We hope to show that the significant burden of occupationally related lung disease may be reduced using these procedures.

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U.S. and Ukrainian miners meet

The industrial hygiene component of the project will gather data on concentrations of coal mine dust in each mine. This will be obtained by prospective sampling which will allow better interpretation of previously obtained Ukrainian sampling data. The partners in this portion of the project are the Ukrainian Ministries of Labor and Social Policy and Fuel and Energy, the United States Mine Safety and Health Administration, Scientific Research Institute of Medico-Ecological Problems of Donbass and Coal Mining Industry, and industrial hygienists from the University of Illinois School of Public Health. Samples will be obtained simultaneously using U.S. and Ukrainian technology procedure. The medical evaluation component will utilize a random sample of 700 experienced coal miners taken from the three study coal mines.

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Dr. Bob Cohen in a Ukrainian coal mine

In addition our bi-national team plans to study a cohort of young, new hires at each mine to determine the incidence of disease. This population is ideal since they undergo a mandatory annual physical examinations with 97% participation rates. Funding for the Coal Miner's Health Center, where the evaluations are being performed, has been provided in part by the American International Health Alliance. A standardized questionnaire will be used to obtain an accurate work history to estimate lifetime exposure to coal mine dust, a smoking history, a history of respiratory symptoms, and other medical history. Spirometry will be performed according to ATS guidelines using two highly accurate, dry rolling seal computerized spirometers. Full size chest radiographs will be read in the US by NIOSH certified B-readers using ILO 1980 standards as well as our collaborators at the Institute for Occupational Health in Kyiv, Ukraine. Outcomes for this project will be: prevalence of respiratory symptoms, category of pneumoconiosis on chest radiograph, and lung function impairment. We will look for associations between variables of exposure estimates taken from sampling and job histories, tobacco smoke exposure and our outcome variables. Outcomes between control and intervention mines will also be compared. Funding for the first phase of this program has been received through the NIOSH pilot research grants program and in kind support has been provided by the USAID-funded American International Health Alliance. ITREOH funds will be used for research training and data management in support of this program.