Occupational Health News Roundup

Mine explosions in China and Columbia in recent weeks have killed a total of 120 mineworkers.

An explosion in a coal mine in Antioquia, Colombia, killed 73 mineworkers; a total of 160 were in the mine at the time of the blast, and 90 escaped. Gas accumulations prevented rescue and recovery teams from entering the mine immediately. RCN Radio reports that in the previous five years, 71 miners were killed and another 4 left missing from 18 explosions in Colombian mines.

Explosives stored in a mine shaft went off and killed 47 miners in the Xingdong No. 2 coal mine in China’s Henan province on June 21st. The mine’s license expired earlier in the month, so it was operating illegally at the time of the blast. Xiang Mingchao and Yan Jie report for China Daily:

Four local officials held responsible for the accident were removed from their government or Party positions on Monday afternoon, including Yun Jianjun, head of the district government and the highest-ranking official among the four, according to another statement by the city government.

… The death toll from coal mine accidents in China increased by 16.3 percent to 592 in the first quarter this year.

In other news:

NIOSH Science Blog: World Cup event staff are experiencing repeated and extended exposure to vuvuzela noise. A study published in the South African Medical Journal found that study participants exposed to vuvuzela noise “experienced peak sound pressure levels that exceeded 140 decibels.” NIOSH recommends that noise exposures not exceed 140 dB for any period of time; hearing loss and tinnitus are possible consequences of overexposure.

New York Times: After rejecting an initial settlement because it offered too little money to Ground Zero workers, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the US District Court in Manhattan approved a settlement between the city and workers who say their health was damaged by Ground Zero rescue and cleanup work. For the settlement to take effect, at least 95% of the workers must approve it by September 30th.

Evansville Courier & Press: The Department of Veterans Affairs is creating a program for soldiers who were exposed to sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali water plant in Iraq. Surveillance efforts are being implemented, and exposed soldiers will receive complete examinations focusing on the lungs, nasal passages, and skin, plus high-priority processing of their disability claims.

MedPage Today: A case-control study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology recruited men with and without prostate cancer diagnoses who were living Gaudeloupe, and found that those with the highest plasma levels of the organochloride insecticide chloredecone had 1.77-fold higher odds of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

BBC News: A new report highlights Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources, but a visit to one coal mine finds poor safety conditions, including inadequate dust control and safety gear.

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