Nearly All Respirable Coal Dust Samplings Comply with New Standards, Says MSHA

The agency says this proves compliance with the rule is achievable.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration reports that a recent sampling of respirable coal dust shows that phase II of the federal rule is having a "significantly positive" impact.

Approximately 99 percent of the dust samples collected from April 1 to June 30 were in compliance with the agency's coal mine dust standards. A final rule was published in 2014 closed loopholes in the sampling program, and included requirements for more frequent sampling of the mine air. MSHA analyzed samples using a continuous personal dust monitor that provides miners with results in real time during a shift.

"These positive results are due to the extraordinary efforts of MSHA and industry working to clean up the air that miners breathe and successfully implement the critical respirable dust rule to protect miners from a disease that has claimed tens of thousands of lives," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The nation's coal miners are better protected from debilitating and deadly black lung disease than ever before, but we still have much more work to do to prevent black lung so that miners can spend a career as a miner and not fear the disease."

Phase III, which beings on Aug. 1, 2016, will lower the respirable dust level to 2.0 mg per cubic meter to 1.5 mg per cubic meter of air. An analysis during phase I found that 97 percent of samples would have complied with the lower level.

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