Mining Publication: New Tools To Monitor Personal Exposure To Respirable Coal Mine Dust
The compliance sampling method for coal mine dust in the United States has not changed appreciably in the last 30 years. A call for more frequent sampling with immediately available results is leading to new instruments that may supplement or replace the existing sampler. This report discusses two such instruments that provide immediate results of dust levels. The first, called the Respirable Dust Dosimeter (RDD), is designed to supplement the existing U. S. cyclone compliance sampling method. It uses the pressure drop across a filter to provide an inexpensive screening type of measurement. The RDD has been tested in the laboratory and a limited number of coal mines. Side by side testing has compared the RDD performance with personal coal mine samplers in triplicate area sample measurements. Results show that the differential pressure of specific filtration media can be an effective surrogate for respirable mass. Data show that there is a dependence on coal type and an effect of relative humidity. There also appear to be two distinct responses related to coal type. For specific coals the coefficients of determination, R2 , are better than 0.9. For general use the detector tube, using laboratory generated calibration curves, can be used to estimate respirable dust levels. However, a calibration to a specific coal type may substantially improve the accuracy. Another sampler in development is called the Personal Dust Monitor (PDM). Designed to give compliance quality accuracy, the PDM uses the frequency change of a vibrating element to measure dust and give immediate feedback of results. Results of laboratory comparison of the prototype PDM sampler to personal gravimetric samplers indicate R2 values of better than 0.99 for three different coal types. Work is in progress to package the components into a person-wearable unit combined with a cap lamp system with a total projected weight of less than 1.4 kg (3 lbs).