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150 Feet Below: Into the San Xavier Mining Laboratory

One current project, a combination of mining and public health, focuses on comparing exposures and health effects from diesel fuel powered equipment and one quarter diesel and three quarters bio-diesel powered equipment in underground mining settings. Photo credit: Bryce Myhre/Arizona Public Media.

Environmental and occupational health researchers and students at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health are actively working on mining safety research in the University of Arizona San Xavier Mine.

"The work we are doing right now is comparing exposures and health effects from operation of underground mining equipment using diesel and biodiesel-blend fuels. So without the mine, we wouldn’t have been able to get the funding to do the study we are doing right now,” said Jeff Burgess, MD, MPH, professor and director of the community, environment and policy division of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Dr. Burgess calls the mining laboratory a unique attribute at the University of Arizona. “This is a chance for not just the faculty but the students to work together to solve problems that are currently facing us in society. This information that we produce will be used by the greater industry in making decisions about how to do things in the safest way possible.”

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Related article: UA Receives $1.4M Mine Safety, Health Grant

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