Gaps in the Understanding and Management of Particulates

Strategic Assessment of Gaps in the Understanding and Management of Particulates in the Resources Sector aims to identify and target major gaps in our understanding of particulate matter. The program is being jointly developed by the Sustainable Minerals Institute's Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre (MISHC) and The University of Queensland’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences OHS Program.

For twenty years it had been assumed worker exposure to particulates was being well managed as there had been no reported cases of Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis. We now know this assumption was incorrect.  Digging into why this misconception has occurred has forced the recognition of a series of wider issues relating to particulate matter. Achieving real improvement in the management of the exposure of workers to particulate matter requires a real understanding of what the issues are, what are the causes, and how can we effectively exercise control. 

This program will aim to establish the current state of knowledge, gaps, and opportunities for further work in relation to:

  • Monitoring – conventional monitoring techniques have many limitations and new techniques may need to be identified to tailor monitoring to particular circumstances
  • Human Exposure and health – we need a better understanding of the impacts of particulate matter, and its chemical constituents, on health
  • Control effectiveness – effective monitoring techniques facilitate the evaluation of various potential control techniques
  • Non-coal mining – historically the focus has been on coal mining. There is a need to better understand the issues facing the rest of the mining sector and how well are they being managed
  • Diesel Particulate Matter – DPM has been designated a carcinogen by IARC, however the implications of this for exposure standards, monitoring techniques and control technologies are yet to be fully identified
  • Cumulative impacts – historically the health impacts of potential hazards have been treated separately

The Strategic Assessment will constitute Stage 1 of a broader Particulates Research Program aimed at providing the resources sector with clear, impactful, guidance on particulate matter.

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Program Leader

Professor David Cliff

Program Team

Nikky LaBranche

Associate Professor Seyedtaghi Mirmohammadi (past visiting fellow)

Program Keywords

Particulates, dust, health, management, risk, monitoring, pneumoconiosis

Related available student projects

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