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Databank. Children's respiratory health and open-cast coal mining
Children's respiratory health and open-cast coal mining
A report considering this important topic was published in December 1999. Carried out by researchers at Newcastle University's Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, ten sites in the north of England were investigated for a period of six weeks. The key findings were that the levels of asthma, wheeze or bronchitis in children living in communitities where open-cast coal mining was being carried out were broadly similar to those living in communities where it was not. The symptoms of children suffering from asthma were no more severe in the open-cast communities studied. However, GP consultations for respiratory, skin and eye complaints were significantly higher in open-cast communities compared to the control communities. The researchers have been unable to explain this finding. Although the increase is significant, it was not a large effect. The report notes that the increase in particle concentrations close to open-cast sites was not due to the release of coal particles but was more likely due to earth moving and excavation. The committee recommended that efforts should continue to be made to control the emission of particles from open-cast sites. The levels of dust particles in the two sets of communities were generally below the National Air Quality Standard as contained in the Air Quality Regulations 1997.