The University of Virginia’s College at Wise will host a forum on the growing cases of black lung disease in Appalachia on Tuesday, May 15.

Black Lung Disease in Appalachia: The Emerging PMF Epidemic will begin at 1 p.m. and will end at 6:30 p.m. in the Leonard Sandridge Science Center on campus.

Research conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in collaboration with Stone Mountain Health Services, recently documented an alarming number of miners with Complicated Black Lung Disease, or Progressive Massive Fibrosis (PMF). Progressive Massive Fibrosis is caused by inhalation of coal and silica dust from underground and surface coal mines. These recently documented cases of Progressive Massive Fibrosis represent the largest cluster ever reported in scientific literature, and are impacting miners at a much younger age than typically seen in the past.

The event will engage medical, behavioral health, legal and public health professionals, as well as current and former miners and their family members. Sessions will focus on medical and legal aspects of the disease, threat to the health and lives of miners, maximizing quality of life, and benefits counseling with lay representation. Organizers of the event hope that these sessions will support increased collaboration, partnership, and capacity among individuals, organizations, and communities to better address the emerging PMF Epidemic in Central Appalachia.

Local and national experts will discuss PMF from medical, legal, public health, and personal perspectives. Speakers will include Ron Carson and Esther Ajjarapu with Stone Mountain Health Services; David Blackley, A. Scott Laney, and Cara Halldin with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; James Brandon Crum with United Medical Group; Kathy DePonte with Diagnostic Imaging Associates; and Evan Smith with the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center.

The event is free, but advanced registration is required as space is limited. Register online at

The event is being organized by Stone Mountain Health Services, Healthy Appalachia Institute, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Radford University, Virginia Department of Health, and the Virginia Rural Health Association.

For more information please contact:

James Werth, Stone Mountain Health Services,, 276-870-3008

Margie Tomann, Healthy Appalachia Institute,, 276-376-4882