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MSHA News Release No. 98-1216
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Wednesday, December 16, 1998

Public Hearing to Address Coal Miners' Exposure to Diesel Particulate Matter

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) will hold a public hearing regarding the Agency's proposed rule addressing diesel particulate matter exposure of underground coal miners on Thursday, December 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Radisson Hotel, 808 20th St., South, Birmingham. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 1998.

Diesel particulate matter, or DPM, is composed of very small particles which can readily penetrate into the deepest recesses of the lung. Underground miners are exposed to far higher concentrations of DPM than any other occupational group and face a significantly higher risk of dying from such diseases as lung cancer, heart failure and other cardiopulmonary problems than do miners who are not so exposed.

MSHA estimates that more than 13,000 underground coal miners are exposed to diesel emissions. Some underground miners are exposed to concentrations of DPM that are more than 10 times as high as the average workplace exposures recorded in any other industry.

The proposed rule would require mine operators to install and maintain high-efficiency particulate filters on the most polluting types of diesel engines found in underground coal mines and to train miners about the hazards of DPM exposure.