Labor Dept. cuts levels of allowable coal dust

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is cutting the amount of coal dust allowed in coal mines in an effort to help reduce black lung disease.

Top Labor Department officials are unveiling the long-awaited rule Wednesday at an event in Morgantown, W.Va.

Black lung is an irreversible and potentially deadly disease caused by exposure to coal dust. The government estimates that the disease has killed more than 76,000 miners since 1968.

The rule lowers the maximum levels of coal dust in mines. It also increases dust sampling in the mines, and requires coal operators to take immediate action when dust levels are high. The requirements will be phased in over two years.

The administration first proposed the rule back in 2010.

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