Black Lung Disease – is an occupational disease from inhalation of coal dust over long working hours and working on narrow seams of coal. The particulates involved in this disease are retained in the alveoli, engulfed by macrophages but eventually the pulmonary system gets overwhelmed, and an immune response is triggered. 

Blasting – a chemical and physical process that occurs through the firing of explosives. It breaks mineral-bearing materials. These materials can be coal, ore and mineral stone. Read more about blasting in our article on blasting practices in mining – what you need to know

Blast hole drilling – is a technique used in mining and quarrying whereby a hole is drilled into the surface of the rock, for the purposes of packing it with explosives and detonation. The intention is to induce cracks in the inner geology of the surrounding rock, to facilitate further drilling and associated mining activity

Coal – is a by-product of decayed matter that has been compressed and cemented over long periods. In its nature, coal exists in four different ranks (anthracite, bituminous, sub-bituminous and lignite) according to the metamorphic stages. Read more about coal in our article – how dangerous is coal dust? part one – a historical look at coal mining in Queensland. 

Coal dust – is dust generated from coal mining activities which are usually on the surface or underground. These activities include stockpiling, loading and unloading. Exposure to coal dust can cause a person to develop coal worker’s pneumoconiosis also known as black lung disease. 

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Drill cuttings – these are cuttings and shavings of different particle size and chemistries that are generated from the different drilling methods. The best practice dust control for drill cuttings is evaluated in the guide to mineral exploration drilling

Dust – these are tiny, solid particles added to the natural air due to human activities such as mining, blasting, drilling, construction, wildfires or natural phenomena such as volcanoes, dust storms or sea sprays. In mining and quarrying, airborne dust contaminants include silica dust, metalliferous dust and coal dust. 

Dust suppressant – a chemical used to bind and capture dust particles to prevent them from being airborne. Examples of dust suppressants include water, surfactants, liquid polymers and highly refined liquids. 

Metalliferous dust – is generated from both surface and underground mining of iron ore, copper, tin, nickel, gold, silver and zinc. Inhalable and respirable dust in metalliferous mining is generated from mining activities such as drilling, extraction, crushing, hauling, stockpiling and processing of minerals.           

Particulate matter – is divided into three categories namely primary, secondary and re-suspended particulate matter (PM). Primary PM is directly released into the atmosphere by many human and natural sources. Secondary PM is formed by physical and chemical reactions from other pollutants such as power plants and coal fires. Re-suspended PM returns into the air after deposition through wind action or road traffic disturbance. 

20-mining-and-quarrying-dust-terms-explainedPM 2.5 – Particle sizes 2.5 microns and smaller (invisible to the naked eye) includes many industrial dusts such as lead dust, metallurgic dusts, wood dust, carbon black dust and coal flue gas. They tend to lodge in the bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli resulting in irreversible damage to the lungs which leads to lung cancer, silicosis and black lung disease.

PM 10 – Particle sizes less than 10 microns in diameter (invisible to the naked eye) which consists of cement dust, iron dust, textile dust and are most likely to settle in the nose or throat area and can be expelled through coughing and sneezing. The downside to this particle size is that irritation arising from them can cause short and long-term health issues such as asthma subject to length and regularity of exposure.

>PM10 – Particle sizes of 10 microns in diameter or more also known as visible dust with examples such as limestone and are considered least harmful to the human body owing to the ability of the body’s pulmonary filters being able to get rid of it although some dust particles such as silica are dangerous in the particle size category.

>PM10 + PM10 + PM2.5 combination of different particulate matter sizes that when suspended in the air are collectively known as total suspended particles (TSP). 

>PM10 + PM10 + PM2.5 – combination of different particulate matter sizes that when settled out of the air are collectively known as deposited dust.

Silica – is a very stable compound of silicon and oxygen, where silicon is completely polymerized through silicon-oxygen bonds in three dimensions. Its most common forms are alpha and beta quartz. 

Silica dust – is dust generated from activities such as blasting, cutting, chipping, drilling and grinding materials that contain silica can result in silica dust that is hazardous for mining and quarry industries. 

Silicosis – it is a lung disease caused by inhalation, retention and pulmonary reaction to crystalline silica and when it becomes symptomatic, the primary symptom is usually difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath, first noted with activity or exercise and later as the functional reserve of the lung is also lost it happens at rest. There are three types of silicosis namely chronic, accelerated and acute silicosis. 

Slipstream effect – states that to bind fugitive dust in the air and bring it to the ground, the dust suppressant droplet and dust particle must be comparable. 

Venturi effect – states that as confined flow passes through a reduced cross-section, the flow velocity increases, with its flow velocity being inversely proportional to the cross-section it is passing through. 

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Black lung disease detected in open cut mine 

Noble et al. 2017. Mineral Dust Emissions at Metalliferous Mine Sites. Environmental Indicators in Metal Mining.

State of New South Wales. 2017. Airborne contaminants – metalliferous mines. Department of Planning & Environment.

What are the different types of coal? 

Workplace Health Without Borders – Respirable Crystalline Silica