Federal Mine Safety Regulators Finally Focus On Toxic, Lethal Silica Dust

"Federal regulators say they’ve finally crafted a rule that will protect coal and other miners from toxic silica dust, a growing problem in mines that has left thousands sick and dying.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) revealed key elements of the regulation Monday night and published the full text of the final rule in the Federal Register on Tuesday morning, just before a scheduled news conference.

It took MSHA 50 years to do what federal researchers had long urged: make the exposure limit to silica dust twice as restrictive as currently allowed and directly regulate exposure so citations and fines are possible when miners are overexposed.

The new regulation also imposes for miners the same silica exposure limits that already apply to all other workers in the United States.

MSHA acted after joint investigative reporting by NPR, Ohio Valley ReSource, Public Health Watch, Mountain State Spotlight and Louisville Public Media exposed: a once-hidden epidemic of severe, incurable and fatal black lung disease; thousands of cases of disease among younger and younger miners; thousands of instances of ongoing overexposure to silica dust; and decades of failure to respond."

Howard Berkes of Public Health Watch and Justin Hicks of Louisville Public Media report for the Mountain State Spotlight April 16, 2024.


"US Sets New Limits on Miners’ Exposure to Toxic Silica Dust" (Bloomberg Environment)

"Biden Cracks Down On Silica Dust, A Mining Health Scourge" (E&E News)

"U.S. to Limit Deadly Mining Dust as Black Lung Resurges" (New York Times)

"Coal Miners Are Getting New Protections From Silica Dust Linked To Black Lung Disease" (AP)

Source: Mountain State Spotlight, 04/17/2024