Martin Jennings & Associates – October 2005

Aims
The main aims were to:

Determine what (if any) are the adverse health effects known to arise from exposure to inhalable coal dust;
If no effects are reported in the literature with respect to inhalable coal dust, determine whether there are any comparisons that can be made to other inhalable dusts; and,

If possible, determine a suitable workplace exposure standard for inhalable coal dust and establish the degree of protection it provides for specific health outcomes.

Background

Air monitoring in coal mines has typically focussed on respirable dust, due to the welldocumented relationship between respirable dust levels and disease conditions such as coal worker’s pneumoconiosis. However, recent monitoring at 3 underground mines in NSW has shown that workers are exposed to elevated levels of inhalable coal dust. Although the health consequences of exposure to high levels of airborne inhalable coal dust are not well understood, the NSW Department of Mineral Resources is proposing to introduce a workplace exposure standard of 10 mg/m3. This paper also examines whether there is a clear basis for this.