Mining Publication: Laboratory Evaluation of a Canopy Air Curtain for Controlling Occupational Exposures of Roof Bolters
In the United States, respirable coal mine dust exposures are limited to a 2 mg/m3 time weighted average for a working shift. If the silica content of the sample exceeds 5 percent, the 2 mg/m3 standard is reduced according to 10 ) (% silica) to limit silica dust exposures to 100 µg/m3. Examinations of dust sampling data collected by the federal coal mine inspectorate showed that roof bolter occupations continue to be at risk for overexposure to respirable silica dust. Testing at the Pittsburgh Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health assessed the effectiveness of a canopy air curtain for controlling occupational exposures to respirable silica and coal dusts. Initial testing found that zones of higher velocity airflow shrank as distance beneath the canopy increased. This suggested that protection from occupational dust exposures would likely decrease as distance beneath the canopy increased. Further testing revealed that coal dust reduction efficiencies were most affected by changes in interference air velocity and, to a lesser extent, changes in canopy air quantity. However, respirable silica dust percentages under the canopy were not affected by such changes and, in fact, were not significantly different from silica percentages measured outside the canopy. This implied that the air curtain was equally effective on both respirable coal and respirable silica dust particles.