Councils affected by emissions from mining operations look set to issue the NSW State Government with a demand for better standards governing air quality.
In an echo of the long running asbestos debate, NSW councils have raised concerns about the current level of emissions monitoring for NSW mining operations.
Delegates at a meeting held in Scone discussed fears about the impacts that dust particles, mainly from mining operations, can have on the health of residents living near by.
Shires representatives will now discuss the issue at the upcoming Shires Conference, with the intent of calling on the State Government to amend legislation and develop measuring standards of PM1 and PM 2.5 particles.
President of the Shires Association Cr Bruce Miller said that current air quality monitors ranged from PM2.5 to PM10, with no actual industry standard in place.
"With community health at stake, we should be considering Australian standards for testing for PM1 and PM 2.5 particles at the least," said Cr Miller.
Studies in the US, England and Wales have indicated that people living near mining operations can experience a rise in conditions like asthma, heart disease and strokes.
The presence of toxic waste at the site can exacerbate health implications, with some research showing increased risks of cancers, hormone disorders and birth defects.
"These concerns are very similar to those raised many years ago in the asbestos fibre debates, which sadly we all know have been shown to have some very significant health implications," said Cr Miller.
"Testing can determine the source of any dust particle material, the mineral type and the specific origin, if there is more than one mine in the area.
"This research would not only provide an invaluable early warning system for residents, but it would also provide information that would help the State Government plan for future changes in health services, agricultural activities and the mining industry.”
The LGSA will also press the State Government to protect local NSW communities and environment from mining exploration and extraction in the same way that they have protected regional forests.
"This would, in effect, make parts of NSW 'off limits' to the mining industry, which would afford a lot of protection to the health and lifestyle of the people living there," said Cr Miller.
"While we acknowledge the importance of the mining industry to the NSW economy, decisions about mining must not be based solely on dollar values.
"The health and lifestyle of our people; our environment; and our agricultural and tourism industries all deserve protection and consideration.
"Councils need more certainty so that they can plan for their local communities without fear of mining interests overriding their Local Environmental Plans."
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