Coal dust limits for miners - what about the community?
It is very pleasing to see the government concern about limiting the levels of coal dust that miners are exposed to, to 1.5 ug/m3, but what about the levels the community are exposed to? Unlike the strengthening of limits for miners, those limits are being weakened for the community.
The EPA have recently revised the PM10 "acceptable" levels for the community from a 24hr rolling average of 50ug/m3 to an hourly average of 80ug/m3. The alarms still go off at the 24 hr 50 number and the number of alarms has increased alarmingly in recent years, but the EPA says everything is OK.
Well it's not OK.
We live some kilometres away from one of the largest coal mines in the Hunter Valley. Our house is exceedingly dusty and the dust is often very black. We called the EPA to have the dust analysed and from various samples it was between 15 to 25% coal dust.
So, if you work that out as a proportion of the PM10 50 ug/m3, that the EPA tells us is "OK" that's 15 to 25% of 50 which is 7.5 to 12.5 ug/m3. That's 5 to 8 times higher than the limit for the miners.
Work it out for the hourly figure of 80 and it's 12 to 20 ug/m3, or 8 to 13 times higher than the miners limit.
Our health is clearly nowhere near as important as a miner's health as far as the government is concerned.