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IRE Radio Podcast | Crisis in Coal Country

Federal regulators counted 99 cases of advanced black lung over a five-year period in the U.S. So why is it that hundreds of miners with the most serious stage of the disease are walking into clinics across Appalachia? That’s the question NPR’s Howard Berkes set out to answer last year. Howard ultimately found that the number of advanced black lung cases was at least 10 times the number generated by federal regulators. On this episode, Howard takes us through his reporting and explains how he found and counted cases the regulators missed.

You can find the podcast on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. If you have a story you think we should feature on the show, drop us a note at We’d love to hear from you.


Looking for links to the stories and resources we discussed on this week's podcast? We've collected them for you.


Emily Hopkins reported this story. IRE Editorial Director Sarah Hutchins edits the podcast. Original episode artwork comes from podcast host Blake Nelson. We are recorded in the studios of KBIA at the University of Missouri.


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