Excessive and extended exposure to dust can lead to occupational lung diseases (OLDs). There are three dust fractions - inhalable, thoracic and respirable – of which respirable dust is of greatest concern to us because of its potential impact on lung functioning. Occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica are associated with the development of silicosis, lung cancer, aggravation of pulmonary TB and airways diseases. The OEL for respirable silica dust is currently 0.1mg/m3. The amount of respirable crystalline silica present in the workplace atmosphere is determined by personal and static monitoring.
As part of the exposure reduction plan, Kolomela mine replaced all open cabin drills with closed cabin drills. This has significantly reduced respirable dust exposures from category A to category B classification.