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Area monitoring and spot-checking for diesel particulate matter in an underground mine

Mining Engineering , 2016, Vol. 68, No. 12, pp. 57-62

Gaillard, S.; McCullough, E.; Sarver, E.



Diesel particulate matter (DPM) has been regulated by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration since 2002 in underground metal and nonmetal mines. To demonstrate regulatory compliance, DPM samples must be collected and later analyzed by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) 5040 standard method, but the FLIR Airtec DPM monitor can serve as a complementary engineering tool. The monitor is a handheld instrument that offers near-real-time measurements of elemental carbon (EC), which is a primary constituent of DPM. As part of an ongoing field study, the monitor was used to survey EC in an underground stone mine. This effort was aimed at determining spatial and temporal DPM variations in several key locations. The results of prolonged area monitoring—that is, lasting several hours — revealed that DPM concentrations were diluted substantially as air moved away from the primary production zone, but that concentrations could vary quite a bit in a single location from day to day and between seasons. DPM concentrations were generally lower in winter than in summer, which is consistent with increased natural ventilation airflows during winter. Using a modified sampling cassette, an attempt was also made to sensitize the Airtec monitor to allow for “spot-checking” of EC concentrations — that is, measurements made in several minutes. Preliminary field data showed that the sensitive cassette performed well in terms of providing accurate data that could be useful for rapid assessment of DPM.