Quartz Dust a Health Risk for Appalachian Coal Miners

February 20, 2009

A federal official says southern Appalachia coal miners are inhaling dangerous levels of quartz dust despite successful efforts to reduce overall dust levels.

Mine Safety and Health Administration southern West Virginia director Bob Hardman called quartz in coal dust the most significant issue in southern Appalachia mines.

Hardman said at an industry meeting in Charleston that excessive quartz is turning up in coal dust samples from southern West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and eastern and central Kentucky. All are areas where officials have noticed increases in black lung disease.

At the same time, Hardman says mines in the region have decreased coal dust levels.

In response, Hardman says he’s ordering mines with multiple instances of high quartz levels to rewrite dust control plans.

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