Aggravated Levels of Dust Pose Threat to Lives in Moranbah, Queensland

Escalated levels of dust emerging from mining activities could be eating away the health of residents in central Queensland’s Moranbah.

It was found in a 2018 report by the Department if Environment, that average levels of microscopic dust called PM10, was above acceptable levels in Moranbah and is potentially hazardous to their health and lives. Not only are citizens alarmed, some even considering moving away due to growing instances of respiratory issue and possible heart health threats, but also due to the warning that it may only get worse if steps are not taken.

The Department of Environment and Science reports that high levels of PM10 mat be due to lower than average rainfall combined with bushfire smoke. But some experts argue that the problem may be aggravated due to nearby unchecked mining activity with shocking and unacceptable working conditions and amidst zero visibility owing to dust clouds.

Guy Marks, a respiratory physician from the University of New South Wales, said PM10 appeared in the atmosphere naturally, but levels could be increased through human activity. “Usually in mining where there is coal or any other mining process, there is not just the product that’s being mined but a lot of earth essentially … that has to be drilled or exploded or some other way moved and that reduces it to a dust form. Those dust particles are of varying sizes. Many are larger than 10 microns in diameter, but some can be smaller than 10 microns in diameter and able to be inhaled,” Professor Marks said.

Stephen Smyth, from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), expressed concerns about the PM10 dust film at nearby open cut mining sites and said its blinding situation have been regularly reported. “It’s terrifying and obviously it’s worrying that people are prepared to work in that sort of dust. I’ve had a number of [workers] send through photos of what’s happening at their mine site in relation to dust and I got one … where you couldn’t even see the equipment in use,” he said.