MAC: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2006-06-30

China Update

30th June 2006

Pneumoconiosis (Caused by coal dust and silica) has been established as China's most common occupational illness. And another coal mine explosion kills 29 miners.

Huge pneumoconiosis toll

China Labour Bulletin

30th June 2006

Pneumoconiosis accounted for 75 percent of all cases of occupational illness in 2005

China's workers reported a total of 12,212 cases of occupational illness in 2005, according to a report jointly published by the Ministry of Health, the State Administration of Work Safety and the All China Federation of Trade Unions in April this year. The figures were compiled from records from the 30 areas and provinces of China, and excluding Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau and no comparable figures for the year earlier were given.

Pneumoconiosis was the most common occupational illness reported and accounted for 9,173 cases or 75.11 percent of all cases, the report said.

Pneumoconiosis is a disease contracted by breathing in silicon dioxide in the form of airborne crystalline silica dust.

There were 966 deaths due to pneumoconiosis during the year. The report also showed that from the time that records had been kept up to the end of 2005, there had been a total of 607,570 cases of pneumoconiosis reported and of those, 470,089 persons were still living.

According to the report, silicosis and coal miners' "black lung" disease were the most common kinds of pneumoconiosis, accounting for 4,358 and 3,967 cases which together accounted for 90.8 percent of all reported cases of pneumoconiosis. The second most common varieties were pneumoconiosis produced from cement works, 177 cases; those produced from asbestos, 170 cases; and those resulting from the soldering environment, 148 cases.

The coal industry was the source of most of the new cases, a total of 4,477 cases or 48.8 percent. The metallurgy industries were the next most significant source, accounting for 905 new cases or 9.87 percent of all new cases.

An analysis of the data on pneumoconiosis cases showed that time needed to develop the disease had shortened. Reports from 21 provinces showed that there were 211 cases of pneumoconiosis among workers who had been working in various industries for less than two years, with the shortest reported time listed as less than three months.

The average age of a worker contracting pneumoconiosis was 40.9 years of age and the youngest was 20 years. There were 1,971 cases of pneumoconiosis among workers who had been working for less than 10 years, accounting for 21.49 percent of all cases. Those suffering from acute pneumoconiosis were most commonly found in the industries such as gold mining, quartz cutting and canal construction. These were located mainly in Zhejiang, Guangxi, Qinghai, Anhui, Hunan, Guizhou and Gansu provinces.

Sources: (24 April 2006), CRI Online (24 April 2006), Ministry of Health (24 April 2006)

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