Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New, personal monitors show that new dust-control rules in coal mines are about 99% effective

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Monday that nearly all of "the nation’s coal mines were in compliance on nearly all dust samples taken this year with new monitors aimed at cutting miners’ exposure to particles that can cause deadly black lung disease," Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Tougher dust-control rules in coal mines, which took effect Feb 1, require "companies to begin using continuous personal dust monitors on miners in the dustiest jobs and to conduct more sampling." (ThermoFisher Scientific photo: A personal dust monitor)

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)

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