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Characterization of respirable dust in an underground coal mine in Central Appalachia

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2014, Vol. 336, No. 1, pp. 457-466

Sellaro, R.; Sarver, E.


It has long been understood that extended occupational exposures to respirable mine dusts can lead to chronic lung disease. In underground coal mines, coal workers pneumoconiosis (CWP) and silicosis are major concerns. While many efforts have been made with the aim of understanding the mass-based concentrations and silica contents of respirable dusts under a variety of mining conditions, little research has been completed in characterizing dust at the individual particle level (by composition, size and shape). This study employed scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray (SEM-EDX) to analyze dust samples collected from an underground coal mine in Central Appalachia. The results indicated that particle characteristics can vary widely between locations, though many trends might be explained based on knowledge of mining conditions. A continuous personal dust monitor (CPDM) was also used during the collection of some samples to determine respirable dust concentrations, which were compared against estimated concentrations based on the particle-level analysis.