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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona: Receives $1.78 Million for Mining Safety Study

Researchers at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health will study alternatives to diesel fuel, used to power equipment in underground mines, to reduce cancer and respiratory disease in miners.

Diesel particulate matter (DPM) exposure is associated with increases in lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, respiratory tract infections, asthma and cardiovascular disease. In addition to DPM, miners could be exposed to other toxic vehicle emissions, such as nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide and carbon monoxide.

With a $1.78 million grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, researchers at the UA College of Public Health seek to determine the extent to which using alternative fuel mixtures can reduce exposure to hazardous components of diesel engine exhaust in underground mines to reduce disease in miners.

In a previous study by Dr. Jeffrey Burgess, associate dean of research and a professor at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health, and colleagues published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (2016), findings showed that even though use of biodiesel blends reduced the exposure of miners to diesel particulate matter, it did not prevent toxic effects in the lungs of the miners.

In the new study, Dr. Burgess and team will partner with an underground mine to evaluate two promising new alternative fuels: renewable diesel (RD) and a natural gas/diesel (GD) fuel mixture for underground mining, comparing emissions exposures and toxicity from vehicles using diesel, RD and GD fuels.

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