Coal has been mined from Boone County, WV for over 100 years. Mountaintop removal mining (MTR) has increased dramatically since the 1970’s and may account for ?30 per cent of West Virginia’s coal. For people who live nearby, airborne particulate matter (PM) may present a health hazard. Our hypothesis was that deaths from lung and bronchus cancer (LBC) increased significantly in Boone County, WV between1950-1969 and 2006-2012, the increase was not related to mining occupation and could not be completely accounted for by smoking cigarettes. Cause of death data were collected and stratified by gender, occupation and age and corrected for age. We compared LBC deaths pre- and post-MTR in (male) miners and non-miners, and (female) homemakers and non-homemakers. A statistically significant difference in LBC mortality for all ages and both genders between the periods 1950-1969 and 2006-2012 was found. The AADR for LBC was significantly higher in 10 counties with the most total acres under open permit in WV than in counties without MTR. The smoking-corrected OR for LBC in MTRmined counties was 1.39 (95% C.I. 1.37, 1.41). There was no association between coal mining occupation and LBC AADR. However, homemakers had a significantly higher rate of LBC deaths during 2006-2012 than non-homemakers. Therefore a factor or factor(s) was present in the home environment that increased LBC deaths. Since MTR became prevalent in the 1980’s and LBC has a latency period of 19-45 years, exposure to PM could have played a role, with synergy between smoking and environmental exposure.
Crosby L, Tatu C and Charles K