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RR470 - Coal mine dust as a benchmark for standards for other poorly soluble dusts

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requested a position paper that explores the potential to use coal mine dust as a benchmark for developing generic standards for poorly soluble dusts in general. In particular, two elements are required:

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  1. Characterisation of the exposure-response relationships for coal mine dusts and COPD, using lung function and respiratory symptoms data as diagnostic markers. The lung function could be expressed in various ways, and if it is possible to use the rate of decline of FEV1 over time as the index of effect then that would be desirable. It may be necessary to express the lung function values as percentages of standardised predicted values if this is the only way to allow comparisons with data sets on other dusts.
  2. Evaluation of suitable existing datasets on other dusts that have been studied by the IOM or elsewhere, comparing them with the coal mine dust data. The aim will be to see whether coal mine dust is of similar potency to other poorly soluble dusts that are not known to be intrinsically toxic.

The paper was to confine itself to epidemiological data and would be used in HSE to help judge the adequacy of the current COSHH position on dusts that are otherwise not classified.”


The broad aims of the programme of work are to review the epidemiological evidence that might justify applying quantitative risks of COPD derived from coal miners’ studies to low solubility dusts in general, and to conduct some analyses of existing data to complete the picture of exposure-response relationships for COPD related to exposure to coal mine dust. This report represents the first step in the process: the production of a partial position report written on the basis of existing publications and results, with some reanalysis of IOM data for comparability with other publications.

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Updated 2010-03-19