4 states with highest death rates due to occupational lung disease deaths since 1999

The average yearly number of preventable occupational lung disease deaths decreased 40.4 percent from 1999 to 2018, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published June 12. 

The CDC analyzed cause-of-death data from 1999-2018 for individuals older than 15 years, combined with industry and occupation data from 26 states for the years 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2007-2013. Deaths linked to pneumoconioses, a group of occupational lung diseases caused by inhaling dust particles, continue to occur, underscoring the importance of exposure reduction, early case detection and continued surveillance.

Six report takeaways: 

1. The highest age-adjusted death rates for the 20-year period were in West Virginia for coal workers' pneumoconiosis (59.8 per million population), Montana for asbestosis (20), Vermont for silicosis (2.3) and West Virginia for unspecified pneumoconiosis (24.1).

2. During 1999-2018, pneumoconiosis deaths decreased by 40.4 percent, with the exception of pneumoconiosis attributed to other inorganic dusts, such as aluminum and iron, which rose significantly.

3. From 1968 to 2000, death rates for all pneumoconioses decreased except for  asbestosis. 

4. Asbestosis continues to be the most common cause of pneumoconiosis mortality, accounting for 60.1 percent of all related deaths during 1999-2018, though the number of asbestosis-associated deaths began to decline in 2001.  

5. The largest decreases in related deaths were those with coal workers' pneumoconiosis (69.6 percent).

6. Among all pneumoconiosis decedents, nearly all were men (96.3 percent) and white (94.6 percent).

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