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Mining Publication: The Relationship between Elemental Carbon and Diesel Particulate Matter in Underground Metal/Nonmetal Mines in the United States and Coal Mines in Australia

Original creation date: March 2015

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In the United States, total carbon (TC) is used as a surrogate for determining diesel particulate matter (DPM) compliance exposures in underground metal/nonmetal mines. Since TC can be affected by interferences and elemental carbon (EC) is not, one method used to estimate the TC concentration is to multiply the EC concentration from the personal sample by a conversion factor to avoid the influence of potential interferences. Since there is no accepted single conversion factor for all metal/nonmetal mines, one is determined every time an exposure sample is taken by collecting an area sample that represents the TC/EC ratio in the miner's breathing zone and is away from potential interferences. As an alternative to this procedure, this article investigates the relationship between TC and EC from DPM samples to determine if a single conversion factor can be used for all metal/nonmetal mines. In addition, this article also investigates how well EC represents DPM concentrations in Australian coal mines since the recommended exposure limit for DPM in Australia is an EC value. When TC was predicted from EC values using a single conversion factor of 1.27 in 14 US metal/nonmetal mines, 95% of the predicted values were within 18% of the measured value, even at the permissible exposure limit (PEL) concentration of 160 μg/m3 TC. A strong correlation between TC and EC was also found in nine underground coal mines in Australia.

Authors: JD Noll, S Gilles, HW Wu, EN Rubinstein

Peer Reviewed Journal Article - March 2015

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NIOSHTIC2 Number: 20045326

J Occup Environ Hyg 2015 Mar; 12(3):205-211