Respirable Dust Rule: A Historic Step Forward in the Effort to End Black Lung Disease

The toll of black lung continues
The toll of black lung continues

MSHA’s Respirable Coal Dust Rule Is Better Protecting Our Nation’s Miners

On August 1, 2014, MSHA’s landmark respirable dust rule went into effect, adding a number of increased protections for coal miners and closing several loopholes that masked their exposure to unhealthy coal mine dust. Respirable coal dust sampling results for the first year of the rule—containing those new protections—show that compliance is achievable and, most importantly, that the nation’s coal miners are now, more than ever before, better protected from the debilitating and deadly black lung disease.

Certification testing required by August 1st

To maintain certification in the tasks the certified person performs, every three years, a person must pass the applicable MSHA examination demonstrating competency in sampling procedures under final § 70.202(c) or competency in maintenance and calibration under final § 70.203(c).

Those who held certification(s) on the effective date of the Final Rule (August 1, 2014) are required to pass the applicable examination by August 1, 2017 to retain their certification.

To schedule certification testing please contact the appropriate District Office, National Mine Academy, or MSHA Headquarters person(s). A fixed schedule for testing is being established  and will be posted. It will include the location(s) and times.  MSHA will schedule testing at your site but please be reminded not to wait to schedule


Phase III Now in Effect

On August 1, 2016, Phase III of MSHA’s respirable dust rule went into effect. 

  • The concentration limits for respirable coal mine dust are lowered from 2.0 milligrams of dust per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) to 1.5 mg/m3 at underground and surface coal mines
  • The concentration limits for respirable coal mine dust are lowered  from 1.0 mg/m3 to 0.5 mg/m3 for intake air at underground mines and for part 90 miners (coal miners who have evidence of the development of pneumoconiosis)

Lowering the concentration of respirable coal mine dust in the air that miners breathe is the most effective means of preventing diseases caused by excessive exposure to such dust.

News & Outreach

  • [Posted 7-26-2017]
    Complete Quartz Data
    The Complete Quartz dataset lists all operator and inspector dust samples taken and analyzed for quartz from 1986 to the present.  It includes information that already is on the Quartz Samples dataset on the MSHA website, such as cassette numbers, date the sample was taken, quartz percentage, sample type, occupation codes related to the person or area sampled and mine information. In this compilation, MSHA has included additional information that users previously had to cross reference from other datasets or calculate themselves. Included is mine name, quartz concentration (µg/m3), and respirable dust concentration (mg/m3).​


Learn More about the Final Rule


Educational & Technical Materials