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Mine agency requests input on controlling, monitoring exposure to diesel exhaust

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Photo: Alex Potemkin/iStockphoto

Arlington, VA – The Mine Safety and Health Administration is seeking information on ways to monitor and regulate miner exposure to diesel exhaust in underground mines.

Research conducted by NIOSH and the National Cancer Institute has found that exposure to diesel exhaust increases miners’ risk of death from lung cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified diesel exhaust as a human carcinogen in 2012.

MSHA is reviewing its existing standards and guidance on diesel exhaust, and evaluating its protections against it, according to the Request for Information, which was published in the June 8 Federal Register. The agency issued a final rule limiting exposure of diesel particulate matter in underground coal mines in 2001, and a final rule on exposure to it in underground metal and non-metal mines in 2006.

“It’s time for the agency to look back and review its existing standards and determine whether they adequately protect miners’ health,” MSHA administrator Joseph A. Main said in a press release.

To lower exposure to diesel exhaust, underground metal and non-metal mines use different controls, such as ventilation, equipment maintenance and ultra-low sulfur fuel, MSHA states. Most of the permissible diesel-powered equipment used in underground coal mines meets MSHA’s requirements, according to data from the agency.

Comments are due Sept. 6.

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