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A Kentucky law that goes into effect Saturday could make it more difficult for miners suffering from black lung to claim federal benefits, Vice News reports.

The law mandates that only five of Kentucky's 11 pulmonologists, or lung experts, may examine miners' X-rays in benefit claims.

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X-ray tech explains a chest x-ray to a coal miner in Harlan County, KY. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Eight former coal company officials were indicted in a Kentucky court Wednesday on charges that they lied to federal regulators about the levels of breathable dust in their mines, increasing their miners' risk of exposure to the conditions that can cause black lung disease.

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Miners surface on the elevator at Virginia-Pocahontas Mine #4 near Richlands, VA in April 1974. Jack Corn / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

By Andrea Germanos

Spotlighting the terrible human impact of the nation's continued reliance on coal, new research shows the most severe form of black lung disease, progressive massive fibrosis (PMF), is on the rise—big time.

"This is history going in the wrong direction," said lead researcher Kirsten S. Almberg, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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