Monthly Archives: June 2019

Dust and Eyesight

We all know that dust affects our breathing and the health of our lungs – but it also affects our eyes……..


Barracloughs News –

Sally Phillips

“How Air Quality Can Affect Your Eyesight
40% of the world’s garbage ends up in the air* after burning thus releasing millions of toxins, according to an air quality study by the Global Healing Center. It is damning that inhaling this kind of air cuts off 1-2 years of human life. Most often, air in urban areas is more contaminated due to industrialisation. The eye is a very sensitive organ and irritants such as dust and smoke have both a short term and long-term effect. Short-term effects include itchiness, tearfulness, soreness and red eyes. On the other hand, the effects of overly long exposure to these dust particles, or smoke often lead to conditions such as dry eye syndrome as witnessed in areas adversely affected by air pollution such as Beijing, which has occasions of smog.

Just what is dry eye syndrome?
Tears are made of three main components that are water, mucus and oil. The water is the moisturising component whilst the oil helps to keep this water from evaporating too quickly. Additionally, the mucus is what ensures an entire moisture coat across the eye. Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by low eye tear production or excessive evaporation of the tears produced by the eye glands. All this is a result of pollutants in the air and it is a fact that the air outside our homes is cleaner than that inside and there are several hacks to clean it up.

Prevention and Treatment of Dry eye syndrome
Dry eye, has a varying number of remedies ranging from natural ones to artificial ones. As for the natural interventions, it is encouraged that we regularly consume fish rich in Omega 3 to replenish the natural oil reservoir of the eyes. As for the artificial interventions, eye drops are a good alternative.

How to protect one’s eyes from poor air quality
It is possible to alleviate the problem of air pollution and its resultant effects such as dry eye by drinking enough water. Staying hydrated in turn replenishes the eyes fluid reservoir. This is in line with the usual doctors’ advice of at least 8 litres of fluids daily. Another good solution is wearing helmets and glasses when riding and swimming to protect the eye from dust and other particles. However, it has been proven that installation of air conditioners greatly helps avert the effects of low air quality on the eyes.”

dust and eyesight

Rebuild your Vision

“What Air Pollution Does to Eyes and Vision
Air pollution, no doubt, has had numerous health impacts on humans. But when it comes to air pollution in relation to eyes and vision, there seems to be a gap. This phenomenon has not been studied in depth in the way that perhaps pollution in relation to our pulmonary system has, but there is evidence to suggest that pollution is hurting our eyes.

Our eyes are incredibly vulnerable and sensitive. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of getting dust or sand in your eyes (which everyone is likely to have experienced at least once), then you know the irritation and discomfort involved. Though pollution is a little sneakier than dust and sand, it can have an equal or worse effect on our eyes in the long run.

A study in the Ophthalmology Journal in 2018 found a strong link between urban pollution and ophthalmological emergencies; substances in the air can cause tears and irritation in the eyes’ surface. Though fewer studies have been done around the world, reports from Beijing, China and the India Times seem to suggest that vision health is being affected by smog and other forms of air pollution.

Dry Eye Syndrome and Pollution

The most frequently reported vision problem that is most probably linked to air pollution is dry eyes. This is especially common in places like Beijing, where air pollution is found in the form of smog (a combination of smoke and fog). Fog may be harmless enough, but smoke can be incredibly harmful to the eyes.

Though an exact cause as to why pollution causes dry eyes has yet to be found, researchers suggest that it may have to do with the lack of humidity in highly polluted areas. Areas with higher humidity are less likely to suffer from pollution-related dry eyes.”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

National Days of Health and Safety

We are glad to see that the mining industry is taking health and safety seriously!  Read what the Mining Review and Fin24 have to say about the upcoming national days of health and safety.

National Days of Health and Safety

South Africa to hold national days of health and safety

Mining Review –

“The Minerals Council South Africa is disappointed by the increase in fatalities experienced in the mining industry over the last two years.

In addition to the active steps being taken by the Minerals Council and its members to address these recent events, and to get the industry’s quest for Zero Harm back on track, the Minerals Council will lead a national campaign of Safety & Health Days in Mining 2018, to be launched in mid-August.

While arrangements for each member company’s Safety & Health Day are still being finalised, Minerals Council President, Mxolisi Mgojo, says:

“This day will mark both the remembrance of those whose lives have been lost in mining, and a renewed and absolute commitment by all member companies to safety and health of employees as the primary objective of every company.

“During the month of August, every member company will initiate its own Safety & Health Day at its operations representing a visible commitment that safety and health is the foremost priority to the industry’s leadership.

“In recognising that safety and health is a collaborative effort and responsibility, we will be reaching out to and working closely with the Department of Mineral Resources and all unions.”

Mgojo notes that the spate of unrelated accidents since 2017, has resulted in a rising fatality trend after more than 20 years of almost uninterrupted improvements in fatality rate improvements.

Between 1993 and 2016 the fatality rate fell by 88%, largely as a result of the concerted efforts by companies, the regulator and labour.

The Minerals Council believes that the current situation is unsatisfactory, and is further intensifying its work with its members to address both the spate of recent accidents, and the need to go further towards the elimination of all accidents and incidents at work.

The most serious accidents of 2018 – in which there have been several multiple fatality incidents – have been very different in nature.

These range from falls of ground following a seismic event, to employees accessing old areas, to an underground fire.

Intensive investigations are being undertaken around each incident, and these take time.

Their outcomes will provide greater insight and guidance on the way forward.

When the downward trend in fatalities showed signs of reversing last year, the Minerals Council mobilised its resources and members, in an effort to address the accidents and incidents that were occurring.

Initial indications showed an increase in falls of ground, specifically related to seismic events.

A Mining Industry Occupational Safety and Health Fall of Ground task team was established, and leading practices on rock bursts, in particular, are being reviewed.

The findings will be shared across the industry.

Addressing fall of ground incidents, particularly at deep-level mines, is an area that joint industry efforts have focused on most intensively over the past several years.

This focus is reflected in the more than R150 million that the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) has invested in gravity falls of ground research.

Through the MHSC, more than R250 million has been spent on research into the seismicity associated with deep-level mines.

The research outcomes have led to new mine designs and methods and, until last year, continuous improvements in outcomes.

A critical element of the Minerals Council’s leadership role was the establishment in 2012 of the CEO Zero Harm Forum to acknowledge the value of leading by example.

The Forum, comprising mining company CEOs, meets on a quarterly basis and directs and guides industry’s efforts in respect of safety and health.

One of the first focus areas was on falls of ground, the greatest contributor to fatalities at the time.

This work led to some of the vast improvements that have been seen in this area.

Following the next CEO Zero Harm Forum on 17 August 2018, it will share publicly some of its current and planned initiatives.

An area that is of great concern to all stakeholders is the need to empower employees to withdraw from work should they feel unsafe, and for supervisors to be trained to encourage and deal with such situations.

Many companies have undertaken training in this regard, and the Minerals Council will be embarking on an initiative to learn from those areas of leading practice and to ensure these lessons are shared across the sector.

“The industry recognises that much more needs to be done. The Minerals Council and its members will continue to work with its stakeholders, including government and organised labour, to protect the occupational health and safety of all mineworkers, and in our quest for Zero Harm,” concludes Mgojo.”


Fin 24 –

“There have been 58 mining deaths in 2018 alone, up from 51 in 2017, which was also an increase from the 2016 fatality figures.

Sibanye-Stillwater [JSE:SGL] has accounted for 20 of these deaths, and faces the wrath of trade unions and the Department of Mineral Resources.

CEO Neal Froneman said the high number of fatalities at their operations has been “traumatic”.

“We’ve stumbled as an industry. We’ve definitely stumbled, but our resolve is clear and evident in terms of getting back on track and breaking through the barrier and getting back down to our zero-harm targets,” Froneman told the media after the launch on Friday.

Under apartheid, scores of people died every year in unsafe working conditions in the mining industry.

The Minerals Council of SA, previously the Chamber of Mines, points out an 80% improvement in safety over the last two decades and the industry is working towards goal of zero-harm by 2024.

Trade unions have blamed mining companies for pressuring miners to work in unsafe conditions and putting profit over lives. But Minerals Council Vice President: Andile Sangqu said there wasn’t one single reason behind the rise in fatalities, as the accidents have been of a different nature: falls of rock, underground fires and employees entering unsafe areas.

Froneman, who is also a Vice President of the Minerals Council, said that improving safety was a combination of continuously engineering out risk and changing people’s attitudes to encourage them to withdraw from unsafe conditions.

Production at all costs?

According to Chris Griffith, CEO of Anglo-American Platinum and head of the CEO’s zero-harm forum, mining bosses are required to be visible to set the example from the top down and show that it’s not about production at all costs.

He said that some of the successful changes made include reducing miners’ exposure when entering a workplace for the first time after blasting, and introducing bolts and nets inside mining stopes.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has demanded that mines invest in seismic detection technologies, but Froneman says that there are no instruments currently on the market to foresee vibrations and earthquakes.

Seismic activity can lead to falls of ground, a contributing factor to mining deaths underground.

Froneman said that the layout and engineering of mines must be able to withstand seismic activity and ensure no workers are harmed.

The highest number of fatalities are in the gold and platinum sectors, as these are labour intensive, and mining companies in the gold sector work on narrow tabular reefs where no practical mechanisation has yet been developed to replace human beings.

Companies in the two sectors; Lonmin [JSE:LON], Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP] and Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] are planning to retrench more than 27 000 workers within the next three years. However, Dr Sizwe Phakathi, the head of safety and sustainable development, doesn’t believe the rise in mining accidents is related to the looming job losses.

Phakathi pointed to Lonmin, which is planning to retrench 12 600 workers over the next three years, while the company has managed to avoid any fatalities for over a year.

Chief Inspector at the Department of Mineral Resources David Msiza said the industry could not continue to talk about zero-harm but not show demonstrable results.

“We do receive complaints that employees are being victimised after withdrawing from unsafe conditions,” Msiza said.

Correction: This article was updated to clarify that Chris Griffith is the CEO of Anglo-American Platinum, and not of Anglo-American.


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Fallout Dust Monitoring course – July 2019

Good day

The next Fallout Dust Monitoring course is in July 2019 in Rustenburg

 24 – 26 July 2019 – Rustenburg

The costs are in the attached files, R4400 per person per day.

If you would like to attend or to send a representative, then please email or call 021 789 0847 or 082 875 0209 to reserve a place.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any queries, comments, or suggestions.


Chris Loans

DustWatch CC – Precipitant Dust Monitoring

082 875 0209 or 021 789 0847 (Chris)

083 308 4764 (Gerry)

021 789 0847 (Cape Town)

011 083 8750 (Johannesburg)

+1 832 422 5031 (USA)

0866 181 421 (Fax – SA Only)


To be removed from this list, simply reply with Remove at the front of the Subject line.

Cosmic Dust

We found a recent article about a researcher sent to the Antarctic to search out cosmic dust………….. Enjoy!

_________________________________ –

NRL researcher ventures to the Antarctic in search of cosmic dust

by Cassandra Eichner, Naval Research Laboratory

“After arriving at McMurdo Station on the unforgiving continent of Antarctica, it still took Dr. Rhonda Stroud two days of safety training and a four-hour flight before she was finally where she needed to be: the bottom of the world.

For two years, Stroud, a physicist with the Naval Research Laboratory, had been working on an experiment to collect atmospheric dust, also known as cosmic dust, at the South Pole. Now the experiment was wrapping up, and she had embarked on a three-week stay to collect the samples, and dismantle the collection apparatus. According to Stroud, the South Pole is an ideal spot for cosmic dust collection because it has some of the purest air on our planet.

The information obtained from her research will provide researchers with clues to the origins of our solar system: the formation of planets, the composition of comets and asteroids, and the evolution of the primordial gas and dust into the Earth and life as we know it today.

“Cosmic dust is entering our atmosphere at about 40,000 tons enter per year, and it’s coming from asteroids and comets,” Stroud said. “So this cosmic dust is the preserved fragments of building blocks from the start of the solar system.”

At the South Pole, Stroud collected her samples using a machine aptly named a “comic dust sucker.” She described the device much like a vacuum cleaner or air purifier—but unlike the refuse collected by those household devices, the dust this device collects is invaluable—not just to Stroud but to researchers around the world.

“The “Dust Sucker” is housed in a small hut, with a pipe that looked like a stove vent pipe pointed out from the hut into the clean air sector,” she explained. “We used a big fan and blower to suck air through the pipe. The dust was deposited on filters similar to those you might find in a home air purifier.”

During her stay at the South Pole, Stroud braved wind chill temperatures as low as 40 below zero to collect her research samples, and eventually, deconstruct the cosmic dust sucker. Her carefully collected samples were then wrapped, stored, and transported to project partners at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL).

Once the samples and Stroud were back stateside, Stroud’s job was far from over. She and her project partners still had to undertake a microscopic analysis of the samples to find the cosmic dust hidden inside. In addition to collecting cosmic dust, the filters can pick up particles of aluminum from the collection pipe itself, among other things.

“The cosmic dust particles themselves are tiny, maybe 10 microns, about one-tenth of a human hair,” she said. “You can’t see them with your eye. We often use an electron microscope because that lets us see things in great detail and measure their composition.”
Among the more surprising finds they came across during their analysis was particles of talc, a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate that Stroud said researchers don’t expect to derive from a comet or asteroid.

“We couldn’t rule out it as a strange and new component of a comet…until I saw a weather balloon that they released at the South Pole,” Stroud said. “They do climate monitoring there and release balloons twice a day. Those latex balloons are covered in talc so when they’re packaged they don’t stick together.”

While the discovery of talc hadn’t amounted to anything, countless possibilities are still waiting to be discovered in the dust, according to Stroud, and thousands of people in the planetary science community are curious to know the results.

“Some [researchers] would like to make isotope measurements that would tell them where in the solar system or when the particles formed,” she said. “They might make noble gas measurements, measure the amount of helium or argon to tell how long [the particles] were exposed in space.”

“Others will want to know what minerals were formed there,” she added. “So they would look at the elemental competition and crystal structure.”

Over the next several months, other project collaborators will inspect the two years’ worth collection of cosmic dust. The principal investigator for the project is Susan Tailor at CRELL laboratory, and the project is funded by the NASA planetary science division. Partners include academic and research institutions.”


ESA Herschel –

Cosmic Dust

“The Universe is a very dusty place. Cosmic dust consists of tiny particles of solid material floating around in the space between the stars. It is not the same as the dust you find in your house but more like smoke with small particles varying from collections of just a few molecules to grains of 0.1 mm in size. Dust is important because we find lots of it around young stars. In fact it helps them to form, and it is also the raw material from which planets like the Earth are formed.

The diagram below illustrates the cosmic dust cycle. Dust is formed in stars and is then blown off in a slow wind or a massive star explosion. The dust is then ‘recycled’ in the clouds of gas between stars and some of it is consumed when the next generation of stars begins to form. Astronomers used to consider dust as a nuisance because it absorbs the visible light from objects, keeping them hidden from our optical telescopes making the Universe appear very dark and hiding a lot of interesting things from us. But these dusty clouds have silver linings, however. When astronomers started to use infrared cameras, they discovered that the annoying cosmic dust is actually very interesting and important to lots of astronomical processes. The dust converts the stolen starlight it absorbs into light at longer wavelengths. Astronomers can see the dust shining using special instruments sensitive to the far-infrared and submillimetre part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Herschel is designed to work at these wavelengths, and will be able to see the dust shining at temperatures between 8 and 100 K.”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Airborne Dust – Particulate Matter

An interesting read found at Geology and Human Health (click the link for the full article).


“Airborne dust is particle, or Particulate Matter (PM), pollution, and is one of the most significant air pollutants in Pima County. PM is made up of tiny solid particles or liquid droplets (a fraction of the thickness of a human hair) that float in the air we breathe. Because they are so small, you cannot see individual particles, but you can sometimes see the haze that is formed when millions of particles blur the spread of sunlight.

Examples of the types of dust found in the work environment include:

Mineral dusts, such as those containing free crystalline silica (e.g., as quartz), coal and cement dusts;

Metallic dusts, such as lead, cadmium, nickel, and beryllium dusts;

Other chemical dusts, e.g., many bulk chemicals and pesticides:

Organic and vegetable dusts, such as flour, wood, cotton and tea dusts, pollens;

Biohazards, such as viable particles, moulds and spores

Dusts are generated not only by work processes, but may also occur naturally, e.g., pollens, volcanic ashes, and sandstorms.

Sources: Where Does It Come From

Airborne Dust Particles can come from pretty much anywhere, any movement or activity can cause a large amount of excess particles in the air.

Disturbed vacant or open lands

Construction and mining activity

Landscaping maintenance activity

Industrial sources

Fires: fireplace, camp, forest

– Charcoal or wood-burning barbecues – Off-road vehicle activity
– Unpaved and paved roads, parking lots – Diesel exhaust

How Airborne Dust Particles Travel The Earth

Airborne Dust Particles can travel through various sources such as soil being lifted up by weather (an Aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust comes from arid and dry regions where high velocity winds are able to remove mostly silt-sized material. This includes ares where grazing, ploughing, vehicle use and other human activities have furthered the destabilized the land. Dust in the atmosphere is produced by saltation and sandblasting of sand-sized grains, and it is transported through the troposphere. The airborne dust is considered an aerosol and once in the atmosphere, it can produce strong local radiative forcing.


Airborne Dust Particles contaminates the biosphere through inhalation by humans and animals, and can also effect crops growing in an area with large amounts of dust particles. When inhaled, the fibers are deposited in air passages and on lung cells.”

Coal Dust

Coal Dust






Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Effects of Mining on the Environment

This informative article was found at – please follow the link to read the full article.


“Effects of Mining on the Environment and Human Health

Effects of Mining
Coal mining, the first step in the dirty lifecycle of coal, causes deforestation and releases toxic amounts of minerals and heavy metals into the soil and water. The effects of mining coal persists for years after coal is removed.

Destruction and poison linger
Bad mining practices can ignite coal fires, which can burn for decades, release fly ash and smoke laden with greenhouse gasses and toxic chemicals. Furthermore mining releases coal mine methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Coal dust inhalation causes black lung disease among miners and those who live nearby, and mine accidents kill thousands every year. Coal mining displaces whole communities, forced off their land by expanding mines, coal fires, subsidence and contaminated water supplies.

There are two widely used ways of mining: strip mining and underground mining.

Strip mining
Strip mining (also known as open cast, mountaintop or surface mining) involves scraping away earth and rocks to get to coal buried near the surface. In many cases, mountains are literally blasted apart to reach thin coal seams within, leaving permanent scars on the landscape as a result.

Strip mining accounts for about 40 percent of the world’s coal mines but in some countries, such as Australia, open cast mines make up 80 percent of mines. Even though it’s highly destructive, industry often prefers strip mining as it requires less labour and yields more coal than underground mining.

Impacts of strip mining:
*Strip mining destroys landscapes, forests and wildlife habitats at the site of the mine when trees, plants, and topsoil are cleared from the mining area. This in turn leads to soil erosion and destruction of agricultural land.
*When rain washes the loosened top soil into streams, sediments pollute waterways. This can hurt fish and smother plant life downstream, and cause disfiguration of river channels and streams, which leads to flooding.
*There is an increased risk of chemical contamination of ground water when minerals in upturned earth seep into the water table, and watersheds are destroyed when disfigured land loses the water it once held.
*Strip mining causes dust and noise pollution when top soil is disrupted with heavy machinery and coal dust is created in mines.

The result of all this is barren land that stays contaminated long after a coal mine shuts down.

Although many countries require reclamation plans for coal mining sites, undoing all the environmental damages to water supplies, destroyed habitats, and poor air quality is a long and problematic task. This land disturbance is on a vast scale. In the US, between 1930 and 2000, coal mining altered about 2.4 million hectares [5.9 million acres] of natural landscape, most of it originally forest. Attempts to re-seed land destroyed by coal mining is difficult because the mining process has so thoroughly damaged the soil. For example, in Montana, replanting projects had a success rate of only 20-30 percent, while in some places in Colorado only 10 percent of oak aspen seedlings that were planted survived.

In China, coal mining has degraded the quality of land of an estimated 3.2 million hectares, according to a 2004 estimate. The overall restoration rate (the ratio of reclaimed land area to the total degraded land area) of mine wasteland was only about 10–12 percent.

Strip Mining - image sourced from article

Underground mining
The majority of the world’s coal is obtained through underground mines. While underground mining, which allows coal companies to extract deeper deposits of coal, is viewed as less destructive than strip mining, the effects of mining widespread damage to the environment. In room-and-pillar mines, columns of coal are left to support the ground above during the initial mining process, then they are often taken out and the mine is left to collapse, which is known as subsidence. In longwall mines, mechanical shearers strip the coal from the mines. Support structures that enable the shearers’ access to the mine are eventually removed, and the mine collapses. It is these effects of mining that nobody sees but are the most troubling of all.

Impacts of underground mining
*Underground mining causes huge amounts of waste earth and rock to be brought to the surface – waste that often becomes toxic when it comes into contact with air and water.
*It causes subsidence as mines collapse and the land above it starts to sink. This causes serious damage to buildings.
*It lowers the water table, changing the flow of groundwater and streams. In Germany for example, over 500 million cubic metres of water are pumped out of the ground every year. Only a small percentage of this is used by industry or local towns – the rest is wasted. What’s worse is that removing so much water creates a kind of funnel that drains water from an area much larger than the immediate coal-mining environment.
*Coal mining produces also greenhouse gas emissions.

Common health threats posed by coal mining:
*Pneumoconiosis, aka black lung disease or CWP, is caused when miners breathe in coal dust and carbon, which harden the lungs. Estimates show that 1,200 people in the US still die from black lung disease annually. The situation in developing countries is even worse.
*Cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, lung disease, and kidney disease have been found in higher-than-normal rates among residents who live near coal mines, according to a 2001 US study.
*Toxic levels of arsenic, fluorine, mercury, and selenium are emitted by coal fires, entering the air and the food chain of those living nearby.
*Mine collapses and accidents kill thousands of workers around the world every year. Chinese coal mine accidents killed 4,700 people in 2006.”


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