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MSHA seeks data to protect miners from quartz exposure

By |  August 28, 2019

Logo: MSHA

The Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) plans to publish a request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register seeking data on economically and technologically feasible methods to protect miners’ health from exposure to quartz.

The RFI includes an examination of an appropriately reduced permissible exposure limit, potential new or developing protective technologies, and/or technical and educational assistance.

According to MSHA, quartz accounts for the overwhelming majority of naturally occurring crystalline silica and is present in varying amounts in almost every type of mineral. Because mechanized mining and milling operations generate large amounts of dust, the agency says miners may become exposed to elevated levels of respirable quartz.

Miners exposed to quartz in respirable dust can develop lung diseases, MSHA adds, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and various forms of pneumoconiosis, such as silicosis, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, progressive massive fibrosis, and rapidly progressive pneumoconiosis.

MSHA’s existing standards limit miners’ exposures to quartz in respirable dust.

“The Department of Labor is committed to having the information to make important decisions in order to best protect America’s miners,” says Patrick Pizzella, acting secretary of labor.

Comments will be accepted for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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