Technical consultancy, RSKW Ltd – an RSK company based in Stirling – is to lead a research project to investigate the prevalence of carbon dioxide in disused mineral mines in Scotland.
Commissioned by the Scottish Government, the project will also look at the potential implications this could have for new residential buildings.
The project will be jointly delivered by RSKW and RSK’s geosciences division, which is based in Glasgow.
The research follows a report, published in 2017, into reported cases of ill health affecting residents on a recently built local authority housing estate in Gorebridge, Midlothian – a previous mining area.
According to RSKW, the report by the NHS Lothian’s incident management team found “22 residents from a total of 165 in the affected area contacted healthcare services between September 2013 and September 2014, complaining of headaches, dry coughs, dizziness and anxiety”.
The investigation concluded that the high-levels of carbon dioxide detected in their properties were of historical coal mine origin, RSKW said.
The incident management team’s report made recommendations relating to Scottish building regulations and new builds. It advised that mine gas mitigation measures should be mandatory in new residential developments in areas the Coal Authority designated as former mining areas.
Twenty-six of the 32 Scottish local authorities have former mining areas, including most of the Central Belt, which is the most heavily populated area, according to RSKW.
The Scottish Government wants to explore how typical the team’s findings from the Gorebridge incident might be if the Scottish building regulations were not modified.
The three-month desk-based research programme will cover all the former mining areas in Scotland. It will also inform any necessary action.
“We are very pleased to be carrying out this important research project for Scottish Government to assess the prevalence of carbon dioxide in disused mineral mines and the implications for residential buildings. We look forward to working with all the relevant stakeholders,” said Andrew Gunning, project manager and partner, RSKW.
“This work will build on our previous experience of undertaking environmental research projects and supporting the development of technical guidance on ground gases,” added Tom Henman, project technical adviser, RSK.
Founded in 2008, RSKW Ltd provides a range of consultancy services across government, utility, energy and natural resource sectors.
RSK provides independent environmental consultancy and technical services in the areas of the environment, health and safety, engineering and sustainability management to industrial, financial and public-sector clients in the UK and abroad.