From The Age:
Xiao Huazhong’s lungs are letting him down. The former coalminer from China’s Sichuan province has third-stage pneumoconiosis, or “black lung disease”, and even the five-minute walk from the local store to his house can leave him struggling for breath.
Chinese coalmines have a notorious health and safety record. Official figures put the death toll last year from mine-related accidents at 3786, but the number does not include victims such as 59-year-old Mr Xiao, who are facing a much slower death.
Between 1995 and 2002, Mr Xiao worked in several small mines not far from his home village. At the time, he says he didn’t consider the health impacts. Earning about 1000 yuan ($A190) per month, the job was a good way for the illiterate father of two to get ahead. Mr Xiao also says he was never asked by his employer to undergo a health check, a requirement by law, when he stopped work.