At the start of 2018, the RWTH Aachen University invited 200 miners to take part in a blood testing study looking at PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl). RAG AG, based in Essen/Germany, initiated the study in a bid to shed some light on the subject.
The RAG Company Medical Centre (CMC) is responsible for taking the blood samples and performing medical history checks. A sampling of at least 200 miners is required to provide meaningful comparisons with the possible contamination level of the general population. The CMC is passing the samples and documents on to the Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine (IASU) at the RWTH Aachen University hospital. The institute is undertaking the analyses under the leadership of Prof. Thomas Kraus, a highly regarded expert in the field of PCB.
Every stage of the study is being conducted in close coordination with an extensive steering committee, who developed the scientific concept, incorporated an ethics committee and clarified data protection issues.
In the period from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, hydraulic oils containing PCB were used underground for fire safety reasons. Following a disaster in a Belgian mine in the 1950s, the mining authorities instructed all mining companies to switch to difficult-to-ignite hydraulic oils, which contained PCB at that time. The hazard potential of PCB was assessed differently back then. (RAG/Si.)