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MSHA News Release: [02/29/2008]
Contact:   Matthew Faraci   Amy Louviere
Phone:   (202) 693-9406   (202) 693-9423
Release Number 08-249-NAT


U.S. Labor Department's MSHA publishes final asbestos exposure rule
Regulation reduces general permissible exposure limit to 1/20th of previous level


ARLINGTON, Va. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today published a final rule in the Federal Register that revises MSHA's existing health standards for asbestos exposure at metal and nonmetal mines, surface coal mines and surface areas of underground coal mines. Exposure to asbestos has been associated with lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers, as well as asbestosis and other nonmalignant respiratory diseases.

"This final rule will help improve health protection for miners who work in an environment where asbestos is present," said Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Furthermore, it will help lower the risk of material impairment of health or functional capacity over a miner's working lifetime."

Requirements of the Asbestos Exposure Limit rule: MSHA published the proposed rule for asbestos exposure limit in July 2005 and held two public hearings in October 2005 in Denver, Colo., and Arlington, Va.

There are no operating asbestos mines in the United States, and a few operating mines currently have asbestos in the ore. MSHA sampling data show that only five metal and nonmetal mines - 2 percent of the 207 mines sampled since 2000 - have had an asbestos exposure over the final rule's limit.

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