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MSHA used sound data for lower coal dust limit, GAO says

August 22, 2012

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Washington – The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s proposal to lower the permissible exposure limit for coal mine dust is based on appropriate data and analytical methods, concludes a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report (.pdf file), released Aug. 17, was required by a provision in a fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill that prevented MSHA from moving forward on a rule until GAO examined the validity of the data behind it.

MSHA has proposed (.pdf file) cutting the exposure limit in half to reduce cases of “black lung” disease. However, a recent draft House appropriations bill (.pdf file) for FY 2013 would prohibit the agency from developing a regulation to lower the PEL for coal mine dust.

NIOSH research (.pdf file) indicates the debilitating lung condition is on the rise, especially among younger miners.

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