Impact

Join Louisville Public Media, Appalshop, and the Ohio Valley ReSource for free screenings and panel discussions of the FRONTLINE/NPR film “Coal’s Deadly Dust,” an investigation of the rise of severe black lung disease among coal miners, and the failure of regulators and the mining industry to respond.

These special events allow you to hear from the journalists and filmmaker who documented the deadly resurgence of black lung in Appalachia. Screenings and panel discussions take place Thursday, May 30, at the Speed Museum Cinema in Louisville, and Friday, May 31, at the Appalshop Theater in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

The Louisville event on Thursday, May 30, begins at 7 p.m. at the Speed Museum Cinema in Louisville. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with NPR’s Howard Berkes, Ohio Valley ReSource managing editor Jeff Young, and film director Elaine McMillion Sheldon. This event is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $10. Your donation will support the reporting of the Ohio Valley ReSource. Seating is limited so click here to RSVP. Thanks to the Speed Art Museum for supporting this program.

The Whitesburg event on Friday, May 31, begins at 7 p.m. at the Appalshop Theater in Whitesburg. Berkes will join a panel discussion with miners featured in the film. This event is free and open to the public.

In an investigative work spanning two years, NPR’s Howard Berkes found that thousands of coal miners are dying from an advanced form of black lung disease, and federal regulators could have prevented it if they’d paid closer attention to their own data.

The film “Coal’s Deadly Dust” draws upon this groundbreaking investigative work and includes the personal experiences of miners grappling with the disease. Berkes worked with filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon, who was earlier nominated for an Academy Award for her film “Heroin(e).”

Berkes also teamed with the Ohio Valley ReSource to interview dozens of sick miners in Appalachia and to measure the surge in cases.  

While a government monitoring program counted just 115 cases of advanced black lung nationwide, Berkes identified more than 2,300 such cases by directly contacting health clinics across Appalachia.

The investigation has sparked calls for reform to a program that has failed to rein in this deadly but entirely preventable disease.

This reporting partnership between NPR and the ReSource also produced nearly two dozen stories about the resurgence of black lung. Those stories revealed shortcomings of the systems intended to help sick miners, including restrictions on Kentucky’s program to diagnose cases and the demise of an industry tax that supported the federal fund for black lung benefits.

Your donations help make this important reporting possible.

Jeff Young is the Managing Editor of The Ohio Valley ReSource.