Mining Publication: The Effects of Ventilation Controls and Environmental Cabs on Diesel Particulate Matter Concentrations in Some Limestone Mines
MSHA has promulgated a rule to limit the exposure of underground metal/nonmetal miners to diesel particulate matter (DPM). In May 2008, the final personal exposure limit will be lowered to 160 µg/m3 total carbon. To comply with this rule, mine operators are implementing a variety of control technologies. In this study two types of control technologies (ventilation and cabs) which are being implemented in limestone mines were investigated. Two stone mines in this study use large diameter propeller fans for main mine ventilation and direct the air to the faces using auxiliary fans, stoppings, and long pillars while bypassing the old mine workings. NIOSH measured for sub-micrometer elemental carbon (EC) using SKC DPM cassettes (analyzed using NIOSH 5040) and a near real time instrument. With the present ventilation and the number and type of vehicles used, the concentration of EC from DPM at the working areas was at or below 400 µg/m3 for both mines and about 166 µg/m3 and 251 µg/m3 at the returns. The real time data showed that the ventilation was reaching the working areas and effectively diluting the DPM. Environmental cabs were also used to reduce DPM exposures in three underground limestone mines. Using NIOSH method 5040 and near real time EC instrumentation, NIOSH sampled inside and outside of a loader cab at one of these limestone mines to determine the effectiveness of the cab. The cab was found to be over 90% effective in removing DPM as long as the cab system was properly maintained, and doors and windows were closed.