The impacts of coal dust on miners’ health: A review

Ting Liu, Shimin Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


As one of the most important energy resources in the world, coal contributes a great deal to the world economy. Coal mining and processing involve multiple dust generation processes including coal cutting, transport, crushing and milling etc. Coal dust is one of the main sources of health hazard for the coal workers. Exposure of coal dusts can be prevented through administrative controls and engineering controls. Ineffective control of coal dust exposure can harm coal workers' health. Although many efforts have been made to eliminate these threats, recent years have seen an unexpected increase in coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP) in Appalachian basin in US. To explore the reasons for this phenomenon, in this review, we first reviewed the historical studies on coal mine dust including the regulation and engineering controls. Then, the effects of coal dust on human health was comprehensively reviewed. Next, the effects of nanoparticles on human health were reviewed, with an emphasis on toxicity of nanoparticles such as carbon nanotubes in other industries. From all this information, we hypothesize that nano-sized coal dust has contributed to the increase of CWP prevalence in recent years. As no research has been reported in this area, four directions which may need further investigation and future studies are recommended in this review. They include: 1) Systematic characterization of physicochemical properties of nano-size coal dust; 2) Toxicity and pathogenesis of nano-sized coal dust; 3) Development of real-time monitoring technology and equipment for nano-sized coal dust; 4) Development of exposure control technology and equipment. The intent of this review paper is to demonstrate the variation of coal dust properties and their impact on the mine worker's health. We suggest that the impact of nano-sized coal mine dust on miner's health has not yet been understood well and further improvements are necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109849
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Nov 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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