Surface coalminers are generally thought to be at minimal risk of developing pneumoconiosis. Biopsy-proved silicoproteinosis was found in a 34-year-old surface coalmine driller, and two of nine other drill crew members who worked for the same company had chest radiographic findings compatible with simple silicosis. Reanalysis of data from a previous United States Public Health Service survey of surface coalminers, after exclusion of those with underground mining experience, showed that 38% of the cases of pneumoconiosis occurred in drill crew members, a group comprising only 11% of the study population. On the basis of these data surface coalmine drillers appear to have an increased risk of developing occupational lung disease.
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