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Lessons learned: sampling for bioaerosols in underground coal mines.

Martin-J; Cocalis-J; Rao-C
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2001 Jun; :80
Situation: Are miners exposed to atypical levels of bioaerosols in the mine environment? To answer this question, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed methods to sample face areas of underground coal mines which use untreated surface water in the dust suppression systems. Problems: Traditional bioaerosol sampling methods could not be used due to several constraints imposed by the mine environment. Permissible pumps could not operate at the optimum flow rate for many types of air sampling equipment (e.g., multiple jet impactors, impingers, and spore traps). Conditions downstream from the cutting machine included high dust levels and water sprays that could interfere with sample collection and analysis. In addition, limited background data on microbial species and concentrations in mines made it difficult to determine the proper sampling media and times. Resolution: Air samples for fungi and bacteria were taken with 37 mm open-faced cassettes (0.2 m polyethersulfone filters) and SKC BioSamplersTM using ViaTrapTM mineral oil under non-optimal flow rates. Exposure levels were potentially underestimated with these methods and improvements for future sampling could include modifying sampling times and developing permissible pumps capable of creating optimal air flow for use with a variety of sampling equipment. How will sharing this work experience benefit other practitioners of industrial hygiene and/or occupational and environmental health and safety? This case study provides guidelines to aid industrial hygienists and OEH&S specialists in designing appropriate sampling schemes when faced with non-traditional environments such as an underground coal mine.
Mining-industry; Aerosols; Underground-mining; Sampling-methods; Work-environment; Microorganisms; Fungi; Bacteria; Filters; Industrial-hygiene; Environmental-health; Coal-mining; Sampling-equipment; Samplers
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana