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United States Department of Labor


RIN: 1219-AB64

Publication ID: Fall 2010

Title: Lowering Miners' Exposure to Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors

Abstract: The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 established the first comprehensive respirable dust standards for coal mines. These standards were designed to reduce the incidence of coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) or (black lung) and silicosis and eventually eliminate these diseases. While significant progress has been made toward improving the health conditions in our Nation's coal mines, miners continue to be at risk of developing occupational lung disease, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In September 1995, NIOSH issued a Criteria Document in which it recommended that the respirable coal mine dust permissible exposure limit (PEL) be cut in half. In February 1996, the Secretary of Labor convened a Federal Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis Among Coal Miners (Advisory Committee) to assess the adequacy of MSHA’s current program and standards to control respirable dust in underground and surface coal mines, as well as other ways to eliminate black lung and silicosis among coal miners. The Committee represented the labor, industry and academic communities. The Committee submitted its report to the Secretary of Labor in November 1996, with the majority of the recommendations unanimously supported by the Committee members. The Committee recommended a number of actions to reduce miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust. This proposed rule is an important element in MSHA's Comprehensive Black Lung Reduction Strategy (Strategy) to "End Black Lung Now" and combines the following rulemaking actions: (1) "Occupational Exposure to Coal Mine Dust (Lowering Exposure)," RIN 1219-AB64; (2) "Verification of Underground Coal Mine Operators' Dust Control Plans and Compliance Sampling for Respirable Dust," RIN 1219-AB14; (3) "Determination of Concentration of Respirable Coal Mine Dust," RIN 1219-AB18; and (4) "Respirable Coal Mine Dust: Continuous Personal Dust Monitor (CPDM)," RIN 1219-AB48.

Agency: Department of Labor(DOL)

Priority: Other Significant

RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda

Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage

Major: No

Unfunded Mandates: No

CFR Citation: 30 CFR 70; 30 CFR 71; 30 CFR 72; 30 CFR 75; 30 CFR 90 (To search for a specific CFR, visit the Code of Federal Regulations.)

Legal Authority: 30 USC 811; 30 USC 813(h)

Legal Deadline: None

Statement of Need: Comprehensive respirable dust standards for coal mines were designed to reduce the incidence, and eventually eliminate, CWP and silicosis. While significant progress has been made toward improving the health conditions in our Nation's coal mines, miners remain at risk of developing occupational lung disease, according to NIOSH. Recent NIOSH data indicates increased prevalence of CWP "clusters" in several geographical areas, particularly in the Southern Appalachian Region.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Promulgation of this regulation is authorized by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 as amended by the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006.

Alternatives: MSHA is considering amendments, revisions, and additions to existing standards.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: MSHA developed a preliminary regulatory economic analysis to accompany the proposed rule.

Risks: Respirable coal dust is one of the most serious occupational hazards in the mining industry. Occupational exposure to excessive levels of respirable coal mine dust can cause coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and silicosis, which are potentially disabling and can cause death. MSHA is pursuing both regulatory and nonregulatory actions to eliminate these diseases through the control of coal mine respirable dust levels in mines and reduction of miners’ exposure. MSHA developed a risk assessment to accompany the proposed rule.




FR Cite



75 FR 64412



75 FR 69617

NPRM Comment Period End



NPRM-Rescheduling of Public Hearings; Correction


75 FR 73995

Post Hearing Comment Period End



Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No

Government Levels Affected: None

Small Entities Affected: Businesses

Federalism: No

Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes

RIN Information URL:

Public Comment URL:

RIN Data Printed in the FR: No

Agency Contact:
Patricia W. Silvey
Director, Office of Standards, Regulations, and Variances
Department of Labor
Mine Safety and Health Administration
1100 Wilson Boulevard, Room 2350,
Arlington, VA 22209-3939
Phone:202 693-9440
Fax:202 693-9441