Objective: To describe bauxite mining and alumina refining processes and to outline the relevant physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and psychosocial health risks.
Methods: Review article.
Results: The most important risks relate to noise, ergonomics, trauma, and caustic soda splashes of the skin/eyes. Other risks of note relate to fatigue, heat, and solar ultraviolet and for some operations tropical diseases, venomous/dangerous animals, and remote locations. Exposures to bauxite dust, alumina dust, and caustic mist in contemporary best-practice bauxite mining and alumina refining operations have not been demonstrated to be associated with clinically significant decrements in lung function. Exposures to bauxite dust and alumina dust at such operations are also not associated with the incidence of cancer.
Conclusions: A range of occupational health risks in bauxite mining and alumina refining require the maintenance of effective control measures.