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Prediction of human core temperature rise and moisture loss in refuge alternatives for underground coal mines

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2017, Vol. 342, No. 1, pp. 29-35

Klein, M.; Yantek, D.S.; Hepokoski, M.; Yan, L.



Research by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has shown that heat/humidity buildup is a major concern within coal mine refuge alternatives. High temperature and humidity levels inside a refuge alternative may expose occupants to heat stress. Due to the safety risks associated with testing using human subjects, NIOSH partnered with ThermoAnalytics Inc. to create detailed thermal simulation models of refuge alternatives with human occupants. The objective of this effort was to predict a miner’s core temperature response and moisture loss in environments that may be encountered in a coal mine refuge alternative. These parameters were studied across a range of temperatures and relative humidity values to determine if the current 35 °C (95 °F) apparent temperature limit for refuge alternatives is reasonable. The results indicate that the apparent temperature limit is protective, provided that miners are supplied with sufficient water. The results also indicate that the body core temperature does not reach dangerous levels even at an apparent temperature of 54 °C (130 °F). However, the results show that moisture loss increases with apparent temperature. Therefore, if the apparent temperature limit were raised, the water provided in a refuge alternative would have to be increased to offset moisture loss.