Dust in Australian coalmines is risking the lives of miners and more needs to be done to regulate it, a study has found.
In the 1960s there was a very high incidence of lung disease among Australia’s coalminers until limits were placed on the dust that could be produced.
After that there was a massive decline in the prevalence and severity of Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to respiratory failure.
It was then thought for decades that there were no cases in Australia.
However, a new review from the University of Melbourne shows there has been an increase in the number of CWP cases in Australia since the year 2000 particularly in Queensland.
“A review of reports into optimum levels of dust that were recommended noted that they were higher in Queensland compared to other States such as NSW,” Dr Jennifer Perret said.
“The levels that are recorded often exceeded the recommended amounts even though the average was below the limit.”
There is personal protective equipment available to miners but usage patterns are not well documented, the review says.
Dr Perret says there may not be safe limits of dust exposure and research needs to look further into individual risk factors that may be contributing to a miner’s susceptibility.
The review says a comprehensive, regular screening for miners is needed. AAP