Over the past two years, Dale Stephenson, director of the School of Allied Health Sciences, has been performing research, funded through the National Institute of Health, aimed at reducing underground miners’ exposure to diesel exhaust. Diesel exhaust is a cancer causing agent and underground miners are at high risk of exposure due to their confining work environment, which contains many types of diesel powered equipment, and therefore much diesel exhaust, used for ore extraction.
In 2014, Stephenson and his research team made four trips to the Montana mine site to monitor miner exposure to diesel exhaust. Sampling locations ranged from 1000 to 3000 feet underground. While data analysis in still ongoing, preliminary results show that miners received an average exposure of 43 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), which is well within the 160 µg/m3 regulatory limit established by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Currently, three manuscripts are under development that will document the health-related findings of this study. Next steps include using these findings to support and enhance an NIH R01 funding proposal that will further investigate exposure to diesel exhaust in a larger cohort and across several different mine sites.