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Study Supports Regulators' Effort To Limit Miners' Exposure To Coal Dust

Aug 17, 2012

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A study released today by the Government Accountability Office says that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) used appropriate data and scientific methods in drafting new regulations aimed at limiting the amount of coal dust miners are exposed to at U.S. operations.

As NPR's Howard Berkes reported for us last month, some House Republicans had blocked implementation of the regulations until GAO issued its report.

Now, GAO's conclusions are in. It found, in part, that:

— "Our evaluation of the reports MSHA used to support its proposal and the key scientific studies on which the reports were based shows that they support the conclusion that lowering the PEL from 2.0 mg/m3 to 1.0 mg/m3 would reduce miners' risk of disease." (PEL stands for "permissible exposure limit;" mg/m3 stands for "milligrams of dust per cubic meter of air.")

— "In addition to addressing the limitations and biases in the data, researchers used appropriate analytical methods to conclude that lowering the existing PEL would decrease miners' risk of developing black lung disease."

In July, as Howard has written, NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported "that the system that is supposed to control miners' exposure to coal dust and silica is plagued by loopholes in the law, weak enforcement and cheating by some mining companies."

That reporting — "Black Lung Returns To Coal Country" — is collected here.

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