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Open AccessArticle

Air Pollution Emissions 2008–2018 from Australian Coal Mining: Implications for Public and Occupational Health

1
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
2
School of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia
3
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
4
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1570; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051570
Received: 26 January 2020 / Revised: 18 February 2020 / Accepted: 26 February 2020 / Published: 29 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Occupational Respiratory Health)
Occupational exposure limits for respirable coal dust are based on exposure during working hours, but coal miners may experience additional community-based exposures during nonworking hours. We analyzed Australia National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) data for the years 2008–2018 to estimate air pollutants (metals, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter ≤ 10 micrometers (PM10) and ≤2.5 micrometers (PM2.5)) originating from coal mines. PM10 levels from community-based air monitors in Queensland and New South Wales were also compared between mining and nonmining communities. Results indicated that tons of coal mined increased over the study period, and that levels of particulate matter, metals, and nitrogen oxides increased significantly over time as well. Coal mines accounted for 42.1% of national PM10 air emissions from NPI sites. PM2.5 from coal mines accounted for 19.5% of the national total, metals for 12.1%, and nitrogen oxides for 10.1%. Coal mining occurred in 57 different post codes; the 20 coal-mining post codes with the highest PM10 emissions were home to 160,037 people. Emissions of all studied pollutants were significantly higher from coal mining sites than from other types of NPI sites. Results from community-based air monitoring stations indicated significantly higher population PM10 exposure in coal mining communities than in nonmining communities. The health of the public at large is impacted by coal mining, but to the extent that miners also live near coal mining operations, their total exposure is underestimated by consideration of exposure only during working hours. View Full-Text
Keywords: air pollution; coal mining; Australia; public health; occupational exposure air pollution; coal mining; Australia; public health; occupational exposure
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Hendryx, M.; Islam, M.S.; Dong, G.-H.; Paul, G. Air Pollution Emissions 2008–2018 from Australian Coal Mining: Implications for Public and Occupational Health. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1570.

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