July 25, 2019

Researchers Receive NIOSH Grant to Study Alternatives to Diesel Fuel in Mines

Last month, the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health received a $1.78 million grant from NIOSH to study alternatives to diesel fuel in an effort to reduce cancer and respiratory disease in miners. Researchers will evaluate two new alternative fuels: renewable diesel and a natural gas and diesel fuel mixture. According to the university’s press release, the purpose of the study is to “determine the extent to which using alternative fuel mixtures can reduce exposure to hazardous components of diesel engine exhaust in underground mines to reduce disease in miners.” AIHA members Stephanie Griffin and Rustin Reed, both CIHs, will work with Jeff Burgess, MD, associate dean of research and a professor at the College of Public Health, on the study.

“In an attempt to reduce exposure to [diesel particulate matter], a number of mining companies have used alternative fuels instead of diesel; however, we don't know whether that actually improves the health of the miners or not,” Burgess said. “We will look at both exposures and health effects, because it's really important to determine if we can reduce exposures that also result in improvements in health.”

The University of Arizona team will work with an industry partner and the university’s San Xavier Underground Mining Laboratory. Students run the operation at the San Xavier lab, which also serves as a health and safety training site for industry professionals.

Learn more on the University of Arizona’s website.