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      Occupational Respirable Mine Dust and Diesel Particulate Matter Hazard Assessment in an Underground Gold Mine in Ghana


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          Underground miners can experience occupational health diseases due to exposure to particulate matter hazards.


          The aim of the present study was to examine occupational exposures of underground miners to dust and diesel particulate matter and to identify exposure groups with high potential to develop associated health effects due to the presence of dust and diesel particulate matter (DPM) hazards in an underground gold mine in Ghana.


          Purposive sampling was employed using gravimetric air samplers over an 8-hour time weighted average period. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analytical Chapter Q and 5040 were used in determining crystalline silica dust and diesel particulate matter fractions, respectively. Structured questionnaires were administered to gather data on workers' level of awareness to dust and DPM exposures.


          It was found that 41% of the sampled groups were exposed to higher crystalline silica levels above the (NIOSH) permissible exposure limit (PEL) level of 0.05 mg/m 3. For DPM, 49% of these groups had exposures above the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) PEL level of 160 μg/m 3. Among the 94 mine workers who responded to this study, 62% were found to be aware of the presence and hazardous nature of silica dust, 28% had minimal knowledge and the remaining were found to be unaware.


          There are varying levels of dust and DPM due to the presence of silica-bearing rocks, the production of diesel fumes and inefficiencies of available mitigation measures. Research carried out over the past decades has found confirmed cases of silicosis and lung cancer due to high dust exposure levels. Rock drillers, blast men and shotcrete operators were found to be exposed to higher levels of dust and diesel particulate matter and are at greater risk of silicosis.

          Participant Consent.


          Ethics Approval.

          This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana and carried out under full consent of the mining company under study.

          Competing Interests.

          The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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          Most cited references17

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          Silica, silicosis and tuberculosis.

          Exposure to crystalline silica dust causes multiple diseases, but silicosis and silica dust-associated tuberculosis (TB), in particular, are the two diseases that remain high on the list of occupational health priorities in low-income countries and that still occur in some high-income countries. The prevalence of silica-related TB is exacerbated by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in low-income countries. This review describes the morphology of silica and the variable potency of the different forms. Sources of crystalline silica are discussed, with emphasis on less commonly recognised sources, such as small-scale mining operations and agriculture. Trends in the prevalence of silicosis are also presented. Although efforts have been made for many years in most countries to reduce silica dust levels, silicosis continues to occur even in young people. The clinical and pathological features and diagnosis of silicosis, with emphasis on chest radiography, are described. The high risk of mycobacterial infection in silica-exposed individuals is given particular attention, with emphasis on control. Treatment for latent TB is recommended. The management of silicosis and silica-associated TB, including monitoring for early detection of disease and surveillance to identify disease-causing workplaces, are discussed in detail. Prevention of disease, in the form of dust control, remains the focus of the World Health Organization and International Labour Office Global Elimination of Silicosis Campaign. However, clinicians must be aware that silica-associated diseases will be around for many years to come.
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            Exposure-Response Estimates for Diesel Engine Exhaust and Lung Cancer Mortality Based on Data from Three Occupational Cohorts

            Background: Diesel engine exhaust (DEE) has recently been classified as a known human carcinogen. Objective: We derived a meta-exposure–response curve (ERC) for DEE and lung cancer mortality and estimated lifetime excess risks (ELRs) of lung cancer mortality based on assumed occupational and environmental exposure scenarios. Methods: We conducted a meta-regression of lung cancer mortality and cumulative exposure to elemental carbon (EC), a proxy measure of DEE, based on relative risk (RR) estimates reported by three large occupational cohort studies (including two studies of workers in the trucking industry and one study of miners). Based on the derived risk function, we calculated ELRs for several lifetime occupational and environmental exposure scenarios and also calculated the fractions of annual lung cancer deaths attributable to DEE. Results: We estimated a lnRR of 0.00098 (95% CI: 0.00055, 0.0014) for lung cancer mortality with each 1-μg/m3-year increase in cumulative EC based on a linear meta-regression model. Corresponding lnRRs for the individual studies ranged from 0.00061 to 0.0012. Estimated numbers of excess lung cancer deaths through 80 years of age for lifetime occupational exposures of 1, 10, and 25 μg/m3 EC were 17, 200, and 689 per 10,000, respectively. For lifetime environmental exposure to 0.8 μg/m3 EC, we estimated 21 excess lung cancer deaths per 10,000. Based on broad assumptions regarding past occupational and environmental exposures, we estimated that approximately 6% of annual lung cancer deaths may be due to DEE exposure. Conclusions: Combined data from three U.S. occupational cohort studies suggest that DEE at levels common in the workplace and in outdoor air appear to pose substantial excess lifetime risks of lung cancer, above the usually acceptable limits in the United States and Europe, which are generally set at 1/1,000 and 1/100,000 based on lifetime exposure for the occupational and general population, respectively. Citation: Vermeulen R, Silverman DT, Garshick E, Vlaanderen J, Portengen L, Steenland K. 2014. Exposure-response estimates for diesel engine exhaust and lung cancer mortality based on data from three occupational cohorts. Environ Health Perspect 122:172–177; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1306880
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              Silicosis prevalence and exposure-response relations in South African goldminers.

              To measure the prevalence of silicosis among black migrant contract workers on a South African goldmine and to investigate exposure-response relations with silica dust. In a cross sectional study, 520 black goldminers (aged >37 years) were interviewed and had chest radiographs taken. Silicosis was defined as International Labour Organisation Classification radiological profusion of 1/1 or greater. Mean length of service was 21.8 years (range 6.3-34.5). The mean intensity of respirable dust exposure was 0.37 mg/m3 (range 0-0.70) and of quartz 0.053 mg/m3 (range 0-0.095). The prevalence of silicosis was 18.3-19.9% depending on reader. Significant trends were found between the prevalence of silicosis and length of service, mean intensity of exposure, and cumulative exposure. Results confirm a large burden of silicosis among older black workers in the South African goldmining industry, which is likely to worsen as such miners spend longer periods in continuous employment in dusty jobs. An urgent need for improved dust control in the industry is indicated. If the assumption of stability of average dust concentrations on this mine over the working life of this group of workers is correct, these workers developed silicosis while exposed to a quartz concentration below the recommended occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 0.1 mg/m3. This accords with a mounting body of evidence that an OEL of 0.1 mg/m3 is not protective against silicosis.

                Author and article information

                J Health Pollut
                J Health Pollut
                Journal of Health & Pollution
                Black Smith Institute
                March 2020
                28 February 2020
                : 10
                : 25
                [1 ] Department of Material Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
                [2 ] Institute of Mining and Special Civil Engineering, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, Freiberg, Germany
                [3 ] Department of Applied Chemistry and Biochemistry, University for Development Studies, Ghana
                [4 ] Department of Chemistry, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Martin Kofi Mensah, Tel. +491639306158, Martin.mensah1@ 123456gmail.com
                © Pure Earth 2020

                This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

                Page count
                Pages: 11

                diesel particulate matter,respirable dust,silica,sampled exposure group,underground workers


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