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An assessment of some occupational health and safety issues in the mineral sands industry of Western Australia

Koeyers, J.E. (1996) An assessment of some occupational health and safety issues in the mineral sands industry of Western Australia. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

The presence of traces of thorium and uranium in heavy mineral sands, and in the dust, dirt and tailings generated by the separation and concentration of these minerals causes radiation health problems in the workplace of the mineral sands industry. These problems include health risks from external exposure of workers to gamma radiation and internal exposure to alpha, beta and gamma radiation from inhaled and/or ingested radioactive dust.

This thesis reports on the recent advances in the scientific understanding of, and epidemiological research in regard to, health risks from exposure of workers and the public to ionising radiation. It considers the subsequent revision of the biological model of human thorium metabolism and the updating of radiation health risk assessment methodologies and recommendations in regard to radiation exposure limits of workers and the public by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The thesis considers subsequent changes in existing legislation and regulations for the industry in regard to radiation monitoring, dust control and radiation exposure assessment procedures.

It deals with problems faced by industrial management to comply with a tightening of regulations and directives in regard to adherence to radiation safety standards, improvements in the monitoring and control of radioactive dust in the workplace, and new methodologies of radiation risk assessment for workers in the industry. The practicality of conducting an epidemiological study on past and present workers employed in the industry' is also considered.

The thesis considers the possibility that mineral sands workers may also be exposed to substantial doses of non-ionising radiation associated with electric power at the extremely low frequency of 50 Hz. Furthermore, the thesis deals with reports on health risks for laboratory personnel due possibly to skin contact with, or the inhalation of fumes emitted by, toxic volatile liquids used in laboratory procedures.

Many of the definitions and scientific/technical and medical aspects relevant to matters dealt with in the thesis have been discussed more fully in four supporting papers which have been published separately. The cut-off point of reporting on currently-published research data, comments and reviews in regard to matters dealt with in the thesis is October 1995.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Physical Sciences, Engineering and Technology
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Jennings, Philip
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/51311
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