Howard Berkes Howard Berkes is a correspondent for the NPR Investigations Unit.
Howard Berkes
Stories By

Howard Berkes

Gary Hairston, a coal miner for 27 years, spoke at the hearing. He has been diagnosed with progressive massive fibrosis, the advanced stage of black lung disease. House Committee on Education and Labor hide caption

toggle caption
House Committee on Education and Labor

Coal Miners Grapple With Black Lung And Their Futures After Decades On The Job

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/687527742/687527743" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Coal miner Nick Stiltner reviews an X-ray of his lungs showing black lung disease at the Stone Mountain Clinic in Grundy, Va. Courtesy of Elaine McMillion Sheldon/PBS Frontline hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Elaine McMillion Sheldon/PBS Frontline

Regulators Failed To Stop An Epidemic That Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/677691997/677691998" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

"There's a lot of memories here, some good, some bad," says Smith, while reflecting on his years working at the now defunct Solid Energy mine in Pike County. Rich-Joseph Facun for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Rich-Joseph Facun for NPR

An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/675253856/677895083" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

In central Appalachia, the black lung rate for working coal miners with at least 25 years experience underground is the highest it's been in a quarter century. Don Klumpp/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Don Klumpp/Getty Images

A roof bolter secures the roof of a newly mined section of a coal mine. Studies show roof bolters sometimes have high exposure to the silica dust that is especially toxic to lungs. Thorney Lieberman/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Thorney Lieberman/Getty Images

Sheralin Greene, 57, mined coal for 20 years. She now suffers paralyzing coughing fits from black lung and receives payments and medical care from the federal trust fund. Courtesy of Sheralin Greene hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of Sheralin Greene

The rate of the advanced stage of the deadly disease black lung is growing in central Appalachia, according to a new study. Tyler Stableford/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Tyler Stableford/Getty Images

New Studies Confirm A Surge In Coal Miners' Disease

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/613400710/613403285" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Scientific Studies Confirm A Spike In Black Lung Disease

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/613254363/613254364" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Excised and preserved lungs on display at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, W.Va., in 2012, show the dramatic effect of black lung disease. Howard Berkes/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Howard Berkes/NPR

Severe black lung disease deeply scarred the lung of a 61-year-old West Virginia coal miner, which was removed as part of a lung transplant. Courtesy of NIOSH hide caption

toggle caption
Courtesy of NIOSH

Kentucky Lawmakers Limit Black Lung Claims Reviews Despite Epidemic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/598484688/598630228" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Florida state Sen. Gary Farmer speaks during the 2017 session in Tallahassee, Fla. He has introduced a new bill that would eliminate the false identity provision and clarify the statute so that it applies only to people who commit traditional workers' comp fraud, such as lying about injuries or eligibility for benefits. Steve Cannon/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Steve Cannon/AP

David Zatezalo, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, was asked about the advanced black lung epidemic at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 6, 2018. Huo Jingnan/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Huo Jingnan/NPR

Black Lung Study Finds Biggest Cluster Ever Of Fatal Coal Miners' Disease

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/583456129/583778461" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript