The new focus on nitrogen oxide emissions from coal mines

Environmental activist group WildEarth Guardians has petitioned US
Government authorities about pollution caused by the release of harmful amounts
of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere by coal mining operations in the country.

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
announced in December that it will pursue a revision of best practices
regarding blasting operations.

The WildEarth petition is centred on the toxic clouds of nitrogen
oxide that are released during blasting, sending the element into the
atmosphere. In addition to affecting human health, these emissions can also
have knock-on environmental effects.

Nitrogen oxide remains invisible at low levels; however, in high
concentrations that exceed safe parameters, the emission gives off an orange
hue.

WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director Jeremy Nichols
explained that the coal industry should be made accountable for taking reasonable
measures to prevent lethal emissions.

OSMRE Director Joseph Pizarchik stated that many of those in charge of
coal mines in the US are undertaking their work within the correct
boundaries. However, a few operators don’t understand their legal obligations,
or they are willing to take unnecessary risks.

The issue of management of nitrogen oxide emissions needs to be
effectively resolved in Australia too. World Coal Association statistics reveal
that Australia is the fifth biggest producer of the mineral across the globe.

Mining being the focal point of so many communities in Australia,
harmful gas emissions will put the health of workers and their families at
risk, ultimately having the potential to impact the wider economy or the
population.

Though nitrogen oxide will likely remain a by-product of coal mining,
especially during blasting, mine operators must ensure that the emission is
contained at manageable levels. Given that over-exposure to dangerous gases can
be harmful, industry operators must ensure that the site is effectively
monitored.

The testo 340 industrial flue gas analysers can help detect traces
of nitrogen oxide, allowing for preventative action to be taken if safe levels are
exceeded.

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