A brand new mud testing methodology developed by College of Queensland researchers provides employees higher safety from ailments reminiscent of black lung and silicosis.
Chief of the Mud and Respiratory Well being Program on the Sustainable Minerals Institute Nikky LaBranche mentioned the escalating prevalence of mud lung ailments, particularly amongst younger Australians, made the scientific neighborhood realise a brand new method was wanted.
“Publicity monitoring for mud and silica is at present based mostly on the burden of particles however this overlooks many particulars that we’re starting to grasp have vital well being results,” Ms LaBranche mentioned.
“The methodology we now have developed takes an in-depth have a look at particle traits reminiscent of measurement, form, and mineral make-up, together with their potential to group collectively.
“These items weren’t doable beforehand due to price and know-how however we now have used a Mineral Liberation Analyser which is a specialised sort of scanning electron microscope.
“It could actually measure the dimensions and form of particular person particles and create a mineral map throughout them.
“That is essential as a result of the lighter and smaller particles are extra simply breathed in to pose a well being hazard, one thing which is neglected in typical weight testing.
“We might additionally see that the mineralogy of mud at sizes sufficiently small to enter the lungs is mostly of various concentrations than the mud supply as a result of some minerals break into the dimensions of concern extra simply.”
Since 2019, Queensland Well being has recorded a minimum of 885 instances of Queensland employees being identified with a dust-related lung ailments, principally within the mining and quarrying, building, and manufacturing industries.
Ms LaBranche mentioned inside every business employees might be uncovered to mud particles of quite a lot of mineralogies and sizes.
Some mines have already contacted UQ to undertake this testing to higher perceive the mud dangers on their websites.
UQ is now providing it as a service to industries that may profit from any such info.”
Nikky LaBranche, Chief of the Mud and Respiratory Well being Program on the Sustainable Minerals Institute
Co-author Professor David Cliff from SMI mentioned the brand new methodology would additionally contribute to analysis into the connection between the traits of particulates and the event of respirable mud ailments.
“By understanding the mineralogy and form of respirable mud particles, it is going to be doable to simulate their affect on the lungs so we will extra precisely establish the chance components for employees and tailor efficient controls,” he mentioned.
The analysis is revealed in Minerals.