Quantifying respirable crystalline silica in the ambient air of the Hunter Valley, NSW - sorting the silica from the silicon

Anthony Morrison, Peter F. Nelson, Eduard Stelcer, David Cohen, David Haberlah

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


    Crystalline forms of silica are known to cause lung damage for which there is no effective treatment. Silicon is abundant in crustal material and silicates are the single largest mineral grouping, with silica (SiO₂) being the most abundant crustal compound. Media reports of high levels of silicon in particles in the air in the vicinity of Hunter Valley open-cut coal mines have caused community anxiety and concerns about potential health impacts on local populations. An extensive sampling campaign using continuous air quality monitoring and targeted collection of particles has been carried out in an area close to mining operations. It was determined that silicon as silica was present in the ambient air, although the concentrations of crystalline silica measured suggest that it should not should cause health problems even for sensitive individuals within the general population. The results of the research should inform more rigorous discussions of air quality management plans for fine particles in the Hunter Valley and aid discussions of community concerns over the potential health impacts of coal mining.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th Clean Air & Environment Conference
    Subtitle of host publicationair quality : a healthy balance
    PublisherThe Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ)
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)9780980604535
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventInternational Clean Air and Environment Conference (20th : 2011) - Auckland
    Duration: 31 Jul 20112 Aug 2011


    ConferenceInternational Clean Air and Environment Conference (20th : 2011)


    • silica
    • health impacts
    • coal mining
    • Hunter Valley


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