ISSA Mining

Occupational Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust in Underground Mines in the USA

by Dirk Dahmann, Bochum

An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in the United States has been founded in response to a US congressional mandate in 2016 to assess monitoring and sampling approaches for informing underground coal mine operators' decision-making regarding the control of respirable coal mine dust and mine worker exposure.

The committee will:

  • Compare the monitoring technologies and sampling protocols (including sampling frequency) currently used or required in the United States, and in similarly industrialized countries for the control of respirable coal mine dust exposure in underground coal mines.
  • Assess the effects of rock dust mixtures and their application, as required by current U.S. regulations, on respirable coal mine dust measurements.
  • Assess the efficacy of current monitoring technologies and sampling approaches, and develop science-based conclusions regarding optimal monitoring and sampling strategies to aid mine operators' decision making related to reducing respirable coal mine dust exposure to miners in underground coal mines.

The committee will identify important research gaps regarding monitoring and sampling protocols for controlling miners' exposure to coal mine dust. Base of investigations will be the requirements of the US Mine Safety and Health Administration's (MSHA's) final rule for lowering miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust. The mandate does not extend as far as a change in this regulation is concerned, as the development of those requirements involves considerations beyond the scientific and technical focus of this study. Additional information on NASEM is available at

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