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Epidemiological study on dust conditions of rock places and prevalence of pneumoconiosis among tunnel drillers in a korean coal mine area


, : Epidemiological study on dust conditions of rock places and prevalence of pneumoconiosis among tunnel drillers in a korean coal mine area. Journal of Catholic Medical College 38(4): 975-986

In order to assess the dust conditions in rock places and the prevalence of pneumoconiosis among tunnel drillers, 52 collieries and 3,540 dust workers were subjected to this study. Of total 3,540 dust workers, 2,194 can be categorized as simple tunnel drillers who have been working only as tunnel drillers and the remaining 1,346 as combined tunnel drillers. Combined tunnel drillers are those who had dust working job experience other than tunnel drilling and those who are now working in other dust work places but have ever engazed in tunnel drilling in the past. The occupational history of undergound work was taken individually by interview and the chest radiograph was checked in the field with a 500 mm amp, x-ray instrument installed in a mobile car from June to July 1984. The radiographs were doubly read by the two chest disease specialist and their findings were classified by International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconiosis (ILO-U/C, 1971). Dust was collected by personal sampler, and the amount of respirable dust and the concentration of free silica were measured by piezoelectric balance and x-ray diffraction methods. The results were as follows: The concentration of free silica in total dust of the rock places was less than 30%, and thus the dust can be classified as second degree dust. Total and respirable dust levels were higher in small scale collieries(less than 99 workers) than large ones (more than 1,000 workers). The difference of dust level between these two different scale collieries was even statistically significant. There was an increasing tendency in prevalence of pneumoconiosis as the duration of undergound work is longer. The average prevalence of pneumoconiosis in all tunnel drillers studied was 17.2%. A marked difference in prevalence was found between simple tunnel drillers and combined tunnel drillers: 12.9% in simple tunnel drillers and 24.3% in combined tunnel drillers. Prevalence of pneumoconiosis was higher in old aged workers than in the young and in the workers of small scale collieries.

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