Pulmonary Capacity, Blood Composition and Metabolism among Coal Mine Workers in High-and Low-Altitude Aboveground and Underground Workplaces

Publication Name

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


(1) Background: While previous studies revealed how underground mining might adversely affect the cardiopulmonary functions of workers, this study further investigated the differences between under-and aboveground mining at both high and low altitudes, which has received little attention in the literature. (2) Methods: Seventy-one healthy male coal mine workers were recruited, who had worked at least 5 years at the mining sites located above the ground at high (>3900 m; n = 19) and low (<120 m; n = 16) altitudes as well as under the ground at high (n = 20) and low (n = 16) altitudes. Participants’ heart rates, pulmonary functions, total energy expenditure and metabolism were measured over a 5-consecutive-day session at health clinics. (3) Results: Combining the results for both above-and underground locations, workers at high-altitude mining sites had significantly higher peak heart rate (HR), minimum average HR and training impulse as well as energy expenditure due to all substances and due to fat than those at low-altitude sites. They also had significantly higher uric acid, total cholesterol, creatine kinase and N-osteocalcin in their blood samples than the workers at low-altitude mining sites. At underground worksites, the participants working at high-altitude had a significantly higher average respiratory rate than those at low-altitude regions. (4) Conclusion: In addition to underground mining, attention should be paid to high-altitude mining as working under a hypoxia condition at such altitude likely presents physiological challenges.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Key Research and Development Program of China



Link to publisher version (DOI)