Review of Respiratory Disease Prevention Research

Key Findings and Recommendations for Respiratory Disease Prevention Research

  • In general, research in this area is in high-priority subject areas and has generated important new knowledge. The program is well engaged in transfer activities and is adequately connected to improvements in workplace protection.

  • The ultimate research goal should be the complete elimination of all occupational respiratory diseases in the mining population.

  • Interaction with other NIOSH research programs and divisions should be increased.

  • The NIOSH Mining Program should accelerate the development of engineering controls for respirable dust (including quartz) and diesel particulate matter.

  • The Mining Program should identify those occupations and tasks that result in chronic overexposure to silica dust.


Respiratory diseases have always been a health risk for mine workers. All mining processes create fine dusts, some of which is respirable. Prolonged exposure to high levels of respirable dust can lead to the development of respiratory diseases such as coal worker’s pneumoconiosis (CWP), silicosis, and chronic obstructive lung disease (Morgan, 1984; Christiani, 2005a, b). The Mining Program and the former U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) developed appropriate strategies to control and eliminate these diseases. Other divisions of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), such as the Division of Respiratory Disease Studies (DRDS), the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory (NPPTL), and the Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE), are also involved in the development of strategies for preventing mining-related respiratory disease.

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