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Polymeric Chemicals Used in Mining for Ground Consolidation Works

Kristie Davies – Occupational Hygienist, Anglo American


A number of different products that are used for ground consolidation works in the mining industry contain polymeric chemicals, predominantly isocyanates, phenols and formaldehydes.

Exposures to these chemicals have potential to cause occupational asthma, skin and eye irritation and some are classified as a Category 2 carcinogen.

Air monitoring can be conducted to determine inhalation risk; however this has its limitations due to available methodologies for sampling including the capacity to capture all isomers of chemicals in those products used.

Health effects from polymeric chemicals can also occur through skin contact. To assist in determining potential worker exposure and total body burden, Grosvenor Mine implemented an extensive urine sampling and analysis program as this will demonstrate exposure from both inhalation and skin contact. Start of tour, Pre and Post urine sampling was implemented.

The team at Grosvenor Mine and the Contracting Company worked together to implement engineering and administrative controls to minimize worker exposure to polymeric chemicals. An enclosed product delivery process was developed, trialed and implemented on site. This project is not yet finalized; however results from urine sampling and analysis have shown a reduction in worker exposures.

Also during this process we have been working closely with the laboratory performing analysis and have provided this project information to the Polymeric Chemicals RS Sub -committee.