NIOSH and MSHA Partner to Address Respirable Mine Dust
NIOSH and MSHA have chartered a joint initiative to tackle rising cases of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and progressive massive fibrosis among coal miners, especially younger miners located in Central Appalachia. These diseases have historically affected older miners exposed to coal dust for 20 or more years, but cases are increasing among miners exposed for as few as 10 years. It is thought that this increase in cases among young miners results from increased exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
The purpose of the new Respirable Mine Dust Partnership, or RMDP, is to help NIOSH and MSHA promote mine workers’ health by providing a forum to review existing literature and scientific studies; make recommendations to help reduce miners’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica; and identify and address research gaps. The partnership will be jointly organized, managed, and chaired by NIOSH and MSHA, but RMDP is not a regulatory or federal advisory committee. Representatives from labor, the mining industry, trade associations, equipment manufacturers, academia, consulting, and state and federal organizations will also be invited to participate. In the future, NIOSH and MSHA intend for the partnership to expand its focus to address exposures to a range of respirable materials, including elongate mineral particles.
RMDP’s first meeting was held on Feb. 5, 2020, in Arlington, Va. More information about the partnership, including slides from its first meeting, can be found on the MSHA website.