Occupational Health News Roundup

A rock burst at a coal mine in China’s Henan province has killed a total of 10 miners. The explosion happened just after a minor 2.9-magnitude earthquake occurred nearby, and 45 workers were rescued after 36 hours underground – although two of those workers later died of their injuries.

Last month, a gas explosion at a coal mine in Hunan provice killed 29 miners, while six survived. (29 was also the death toll from the 2010 Upper Big Branch disaster in West Virginia.) CCTV reported that the mine had lost its operating license earlier this year after failing to ventilate sufficiently, but continued operating without permission. Earlier in October, 13 miners were killed by an explosion in Congqing, and 11 died in an explosion in the Shaanxi province. In 2010, a reported total of 2,433 people were killed by mine disasters – down from nearly 7,000 in 2002 but still appalling.

In other news:

Courier-Journal: Miner Jerry Britton, 47, was killed by a personnel carrier in Hubble Mining Co’s Number 9 mine. His death is the seventh in a Kentucky mine this year and the third in the past two weeks.

CNN: A hospital serving northwestern North Dakota has seen orthopedic-extremity surgeries tripled as oilfiled workers come in with injured or missing toes, fingers, and other appendages.

Reuters: Seventeen Battelle Energy Alliance employees were exposed to low-level plutonium radiation at the Idaho National Laboratory, and six have tested positive for contamination on their skin and clothing.

USA Today: An Institute of Medicine study finds that burn pits at US military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan release dioxins at levels above US standards, but there is still too little data to determine if the burn pits are associated with long-term health effects. The IOM recommends additional research on the burn pits’ health impacts.

New York Times: Turkey has now outlawed the practice of sandblasting blue jeans, but a study of 32 male textile workers who’d reported breathing problems found that six of them died and 16 others had disabling lung damage.

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