Respirable coal mine dust in underground mines, United States, 1982–2017
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Respirable coal mine dust in underground mines, United States, 1982–2017

Filetype[PDF-1.34 MB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Am J Ind Med
    • Description:

      This study summarized the mass concentration and quartz mass percent of respirable coal mine dust samples (annually, by district, and by occupation) from underground coal mines during 1982–2017.


      Respirable dust and quartz data collected and analyzed by Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) were summarized by year, coal mining occupation, and geographical area. The older (before August 2016) 2.0 mg/m3 respirable dust MSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) was used across all years for comparative purposes. For respirable dust and quartz, geometric mean and percent of samples exceeding the respirable dust PEL (2.0 mg/m3 or a reduced standard for samples with >5% quartz content) were calculated. For quartz samples, the average percent quartz content was also calculated.


      The overall geometric mean concentration for 681 497 respirable dust samples was 0.55 mg/m3 and 5.5% of the samples exceeded the 2.0 mg/m3 PEL. The overall respirable quartz geometric mean concentration for 210 944 samples was 0.038 mg/m3 and 18.7% of these samples exceeded the applicable standard. There was a decline over time in the percent of respirable dust samples exceeding 2.0 mg/m3. The respirable dust geometric mean concentration was lower in central Appalachia compared to the rest of the United States. However, the respirable quartz geometric mean concentration and the mean percent quartz content were higher in central Appalachia.


      This study summarizes respirable dust and quartz concentrations from coal mine inspector samples and may provide an insight into differences in the prevalence of pneumoconiosis by region and occupation.

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