Odell Mahone in the Tug River Clinic seeing Dr. Forehand for his Black Lung Test. In the 25 years since the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 became law, the proportion of miners with black lung disease has gone down by about 90%. But the downward trend of this disease in coal miners has stopped. Rates of black lung are on the rise and have almost doubled in the last 10 years. From 2000 to 2004, over 4,000 miners died from black lung disease in the United States.