Mine Dust and Pollution Levels

Here are a few interesting articles on mine dust and the health issues that it creates, as well as one on pollution levels in Mumbai.  Enjoy the read!

Biomass power plants affect health: study

A RECENT study on health risks from biomass power plants in Surin province has confirmed that nearby residents are being exposed to tiny dust particles in amounts that exceed the level recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Now authorities have been urged to come up with measures to lessen the health impact.

Sukanda Padpadee, an expert from the Department of Health’s Health Impact Assessment Division, presented her study on exposure to air pollution from the plant during the Public Health Ministry’s annual academic conference last month.

Thanks to encouragement from the National Energy Policy Council, the number of biomass power plants had risen, as have the complaints about the impact of these plants, she said. It was now necessary to study the air pollution and health risks, so related agencies can make better preparations in handling long-term impacts.

The study monitored four biomass-based power plants – two with capacity below 10 megawatts and two with greater capacity – which were not near any other establishments that could pollute the air. The collected data at four air-quality stations was then compared against one controlled air-quality station.

The four stations were Wat Nikhomkhet and the 16th house in Tambon Tani for the smaller capacity plants; and the Ban Rattana School and Ban Samet School for the larger plants.

It was found that the amount of dust in the air stood at 0.047-0.188 milligrams per cubic metre. The amount of dust particles less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) was at 14-117 milligrams per cubic metre and the amount of dust particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) was at 10-99 milligrams per cubic metre, she said.

The overall dust in the air at Wat Nikhomkhet and Ban Rattana School was higher than at the control station, while the amount of PM10 and PM2.5 at the two places plus Ban Samet School was significantly higher than the control area, she said.

The air quality at Wat Nikhomkhet, the 16th house and Ban Samet School were lower than the WHO standard, she said, adding that the 16th house had the highest risk of exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 dust, which was deemed unacceptable.

She said the study concluded that biomass power plants do yield tiny dust particles that go beyond WHO-recommended levels, so measures should be put in place to monitor the health impacts on nearby residents.

It was found that the amount of dust in the air stood at 0.047-0.188 milligrams per cubic metre. The amount of dust particles less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) was at 14-117 milligrams per cubic metre and the amount of dust particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) was at 10-99 milligrams per cubic metre, she said.

The overall dust in the air at Wat Nikhomkhet and Ban Rattana School was higher than at the control station, while the amount of PM10 and PM2.5 at the two places plus Ban Samet School was significantly higher than the control area, she said.

The air quality at Wat Nikhomkhet, the 16th house and Ban Samet School were lower than the WHO standard, she said, adding that the 16th house had the highest risk of exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 dust, which was deemed unacceptable.

She said the study concluded that biomass power plants do yield tiny dust particles that go beyond WHO-recommended levels, so measures should be put in place to monitor the health impacts on nearby residents.

Information found at nationalmultimedia.com

Early detection and prevention a major priority for mine safety

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Early detection and prevention are to remain a major focus of Queensland’s mine safety and health regime, says mine safety and health commissioner Kate du Preez.

This comes after the release of Queensland Mines Inspectorate’s (QMI) annual performance report for 2015-16, which has a particular focus on the resurgence of coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, or black lung, in the state.

“The re-emergence of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis has demonstrated why screening for early detection and preventative measures are so important,” du Preez said.

She went on to say the Monash University review into black lung highlighted the importance of early detection and intervention in preventing occupational lung disease.

“It’s vital that this approach and the principle of zero harm is maintained in all areas of safety in our mines,” she said.

QMI analysed more than 10 years of accident and incident data from Queensland coal and metalliferous mine sites and quarries; identifying a number of hazards, common contributing factors, and root causes.

In terms of coal mining, the report identified respirable dust, vehicle interaction, and contractor management as some of the ‘Big 9’ high potential incident categories the inspectorate is focused on to reduce risk. The other hazards included health strategy, management structures – open cut mines, equipment fire, strata management – open cut mines, surface cable incidents, and ERZ coordination and control.

Between 2015-16 QMI had a major focus on dust management, particularly in underground coal mines, with the report finding longwall production had the highest risks of exposure to respirable dust. This area has since become a key focus in QMI’s inspection and compliance regime.

In contrast, the main hazards in metalliferous mining and quarrying include falls, collisions, uncontrolled pressure releases and entanglement, with the Mines Inspectorate aiming to prevent the related injuries through the ‘Fatal Four Hazards’ program.

“Achieving zero harm in mining operations requires a commitment to regularly reviewing safety procedures, employee training improvements, new and better technologies to manage risk, and effective communication at all levels,” du Preez said.

“A focus on hazard identification and control helps to ensure that lessons learnt from incidents and fatalities are not forgotten.”

The report also highlighted the department of natural resources and mines’ plan to push legislative amendments to improve the state’s mine safety.

“Key legislative amendments to improve Queensland’s mining safety and health laws will be progressed as a priority in response to the re-emergence of CWP,” the report said.

“Initial priority regulatory amendments include strengthening respirable dust management requirements for coal mines and prescribing notifiable occupational diseases. Other priorities will enable implementation of the recommendations arising from the independent Monash review to improve the coal mine workers’ health scheme.”

Last month the QLD parliament appointed a six-person Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP) select committee to inquire into black lung’s resurgence in the state, and find ways to prevent it. During the inquiry they will take into consideration a range of factors including current legislative and regulatory schemes, and whether these have been effective over time.

Read more at australianmining.com

‘Pollution levels above safe limits across Mumbai last year’

Levels of suspended particulate matter (SPM) — small-sized pollutants in the air that can get lodged in the lungs — were dangerously above safe limits across Mumbai between July 2015 and March 2016, an environment assessment report found.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s Environment Status Report (ESR) 2015-16 said pollution levels measured at nine locations where air quality is monitored and forecasted by the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), were above permissible limit for PM10 — particles smaller than 10 microns — and the more hazardous PM2.5.

PM stands for Particulate Matter. PM2.5 are fine particles of diametre 2.5 micrometers or less. These particles are invisible to a naked eye and can only be seen by using an electron microscope. They are found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.

Similarly, PM10 are coarse dust particles of diameter ranging between 2.5 micrometers to 10 micrometers.

According to the report, Andheri and Bandra-Kurla-Complex (BKC) were the most polluted locations in the city, with levels more than twice the safe limit for PM10 and PM2.5. While some locations like Colaba and Worli recorded levels closer to safe limits owing to their proximity to the sea, other locations such as Chembur, Bhandup, Mazgaon and Malad also recorded high pollution levels.

“The average annual levels of PM10 were found to be in the range of 88–148 μg/m3, maximum at Andheri. Average annual levels of PM2.5 were in the range of 56-104 μg/m3, with the highest at BKC and Andheri,” read the report, adding that annual safe limits for PM10 is 60μg/m3 and PM2.5 is 40μg/m3.

Civic officials said dust pollution from vehicles was one of the main concerns the city is facing. “Areas such as BKC and Andheri have major traffic junctions where vehicular pollution gets trapped closed to the surface and owing to the presence of concrete structures, the pollutants do not get dispersed easily,” said a senior civic official.

“High pollution at Mazgaon was observed owing to the dockyard that has several diesel ships combined with pollutants emitted from vehicles on the Eastern Express Highway. However, for Andheri, we observed a mix of pollution from construction, choked traffic junctions and open burning at various areas,” said the official said.

According to the ESR report, there has been seen a 9% increase in total number of vehicles plying on city streets between 2015 (25,46,749 vehicles) and 2016 (27,86,512) with maximum number of two-wheelers (16,00,998 in 2016) that increased by 9.5% and increase in four-wheelers (8,84,882) by 7.3% since 2015.

Other causes were attributed to construction and open burning in the past year that led to air quality recorded by SAFAR falling under ‘moderate’ to ‘poor’ categories at these locations, exceeding national ambient air quality standards.

“Pollution from particulate matter mainly cause by dust and vehicular pollution leads to irritation and increased aggravation for patients suffering from asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic respiratory problems. Symptoms of breathlessness is even felt by healthy people because of this pollutant,” said Dr Nilkanth Awad, head of department, pulmonary medicine, Sion hospital. “Particulate pollution combined with other pollutants in Mumbai’s air can even lead to cardiac problems for people suffering from respiratory ailments.”

AUTHORITIES SPEAK

Officials from the state environment department said high ambient air quality levels need to be curtailed through public awareness about the issue and the need for implementing measures such as car pools and cycling to reduce vehicular emissions.

“Additionally, the state pollution control board is purchasing 10 pollution monitoring systems that will help identify and mitigate pollution problems at specific traffic junctions and residential areas. The tender has already been floated and in a month we will be in a position to procure these instruments,” said Satish Gavai, principal secretary, state environment department.

Pollution Report

During July 2015 to March 2016 air quality levels for PM10 and PM2.5 are measured at various monitoring sites by ‘SAFAR-Mumbai’.

PM 2.5 has a diameter not larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers and “fine particles,” with diameters that are 2.5 micrometers and smaller.

PM 10 – These solid and liquid particles are less than 10 microns in diameter. PM10 particles can stay in the air for minutes or hours while PM2.5 particles can stay in the air for days or weeks.

Site Suspended particulate matter (PM10) (in microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m3) Small particulate matter (PM2.5) (in μg/m3)
Andheri 148 104
Bandra Kurla Complex 135 104
Chembur 135 86
Bhandup 138 89
Mazgaon 125 97
Malad 98 75
Borivli 105 62
Worli 95 58
Colaba 88 56
Safe standards as per Central Pollution Control Board 60 40

(Source: BMC Environment Status Report (ESR) 2015-16)

The SAFAR data was made available to the public in June last year, after nine automatic air quality monitoring stations were setup in Mumbai and one in Navi Mumbai that provided a real-time air quality index (AQI). However, this is the first time the day was accumulated over a span of nine months and correlated as a part of BMC’s ESR report.

ESR highlights other pollution problems in Mumbai

•The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s unreleased Environment Status Report (ESR) 2015-16 has pointed out the falling problems related to pollution in Mumbai –

•Levels of suspended particulate matter was above permissible limits at all pollution monitoring stations of the civic body – Worli, Khar, Bhandup, Andheri and Marvali

•Levels of ammonia (NH3) were almost three times the permissible limits at BMC’s Marvali station (representative of Chembur and surrounding areas)

•Levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) were above safe limits at all locations (Khar, Bhandup, Andheri and Marvali) except Worli

•Pollution at traffic junctions such as Andheri and Wadala increased three times from last years levels for PM2.5 and PM10

Enjoy the rest on your day!

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