Human responses to airborne exposure
The increase in morbidity and mortality of population exposed to airborne nano-size particles has been proved to associate with cardiovascular diseases rather than with pulmonary disorders. There is little known why the cardiovascular system is apparently vulnerable to the ultrafine particle exposure. It has been currently assumed that inhaling such particles may result in a systemic inflammation as determined by higher levels of acute phase reactants in serum. Work in a cold environment creates in addition an extra stressor to the cardiovascular system of miners, reducing its functional reserves and contributing to processes of its dysadaptation and decompensation. Nevertheless, the combined effect that takes place in a cold climate and high humidity constitutes an increased risk of developing bronchopulmonary diseases but also an increase in morbidity and mortality in cardiovascular diseases. There is a wide gap in information on the health risks to specify which levels of control are required in the presence of ultrafine particles in air and cold and thus to provide guidance on choice of proper control measures.
Health effects in population exposed to air pollution of CO, NOx, elemental carbon (EC) and other particulate matter constituting the main health hazards of diesel exhaust (DE) has been known for years. As to occupational settings, especially in open pit mining operations, air concentrations of these contaminants may well reach the levels significantly exceeding occupational exposure limits (OELs) that in a large number of documented instances could impose the risk of acute poisoning in miners.
The cold-induced modification of exposure and related health effects caused by diesel exhaust is to be further evaluated in an epidemiologic study planned in the framework of the above mentioned MineHealth project.
Loading on going in artic open pit mine