MSHA, which analyzed more than 20,000 dust samples collected by the personal monitors from April 1 to June 30, found that "about 99 percent complied with exposure limits," Estep writes. "MSHA said more than 98 percent of the samples would have been in compliance with a new standard set to take effect Aug. 1, when the permissible exposure level of breathable dust for a miner will drop from 2 milligrams per cubic meter of air to 1.5 mg."
"The coal industry had challenged the new dust-control rule, arguing among other things that the monitors had a high failure rate," Estep writes. Joe Main, head of MSHA and a former United Mine Workers safety director, said the sampling results show the monitors and the rule work to protect miners. "The monitors give miners and supervisors real-time information about dust levels so they can make adjustments to lower exposure to dust, Main said. Under the old rules, it could take days or weeks for test results to show the concentration of dust miners had worked in." (Read more)