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Analysis of U.S. small-mine compliance feasibility with proposed new respirable dust standards and implications for better dust control methods

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2012, Vol. 332, No. 1, pp. 494-504

Grayson, R.L.; Kinilakodi, H.


In 2010, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) began holding hearings on a new coal mine respirable dust rule, which proposed a 1.0 mg/m3 standard, a separate 0.1 mg/m3 quartz standard, and the use of single-shift samples for compliance. Small mines largely comprise the “hot spots” where dust diseases of the lungs increased dramatically over the past decade. This paper presents findings on the feasibility of small mines’ compliance with the proposed new 1.0 mg/m3 standard. It gives probabilities of noncompliance by MSHA district, average mining height and selected “hot spot” counties. Because silicosis and respirable quartz dust appear to be the primary issues related to a recent doubling of the prevalence of dust diseases of the lungs, multiple regression models for prediction of the average total quartz content of compliance samples are given. These findings have significant implications for the need for better dust control methods.