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Comparison of MERV 16 and HEPA filters for cab filtration of underground mining equipment

Mining Engineering , 2016, Vol. 68, No. 8, pp. 50-56

Cecala, A.B.; Organiscak, J.A.; Noll, J.D.; Zimmer, J.A.



Significant strides have been made in optimizing the design of filtration and pressurization systems used on the enclosed cabs of mobile mining equipment to reduce respirable dust and provide the best air quality to the equipment operators. Considering all of the advances made in this area, one aspect that still needed to be evaluated was a comparison of the efficiencies of the different filters used in these systems. As high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters provide the highest filtering efficiency, the general assumption would be that they would also provide the greatest level of protection to workers. Researchers for the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) speculated, based upon a previous laboratory study, that filters with minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV rating, of 16 may be a more appropriate choice than HEPA filters in most cases for the mining industry. A study was therefore performed comparing HEPA and MERV 16 filters on two kinds of underground limestone mining equipment, a roof bolter and a face drill, to evaluate this theory. Testing showed that, at the 95-percent confidence level, there was no statistical difference between the efficiencies of the two types of filters on the two kinds of mining equipment. As the MERV 16 filters were less restrictive, provided greater airflow and cab pressurization, cost less and required less-frequent replacement than the HEPA filters, the MERV 16 filters were concluded to be the optimal choice for both the roof bolter and the face drill in this comparative-analysis case study. Another key finding of this study is the substantial improvement in the effectiveness of filtration and pressurization systems when using a final filter design.