Mining Contract: Underground Mine Diesel Particulate Monitor Network

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Contract # 200-2010-36901
Start Date 9/15/2010
End Date 9/14/2012
Research Concept

This contract will result in a monitor that can (1) measure diesel particulate matter (DPM) in real time continuously for at least a month, and (2) provide mine-wide DPM concentrations to a central control station located on the surface.

Topic Area

Contract Status & Impact

This contract is complete. To receive a copy of the final report, send a request to

Exposure to diesel particulate matter (DPM) is a health concern for miners since it is classified as carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Since underground miners work alongside diesel equipment in a confined environment, they are correspondingly exposed to some of the highest levels of diesel exhaust in the country. Therefore, OMSHR was interested in developing an instrument that could be used as a tool to reduce miners’ exposures to DPM. The instrument uses a laser absorption technique similar to the portable Airtec Diesel Particulate Monitor. However, the Airtec filter is quickly saturated with DPM, prohibiting its use for more than about two shifts. The area monitor constructed under this contract places the filter media onto a tape mechanism that can shift to create a clean filter spot when one spot becomes saturated. The instrument was designed to measure DPM in near real-time, run for an extended period of time, and communicate back to a central station. This information could then be used to help reduce DPM exposures by allowing miners to react to high concentration scenarios with administration of proper controls, including increasing ventilation and redirecting personnel and vehicle movements.

Four monitors were constructed as part of this contract. The monitors were able to measure DPM in real time by collecting the DPM onto a filter media and determining the elemental carbon concentration via laser extinction. The monitors were evaluated in the field and shown to be within 10% of the standard method for measuring elemental carbon and to accurately measure DPM in real time.

If these instruments can become commercially available, they could provide the mining industry with the capability of continuous DPM monitoring. With still a large number of DPM overexposures to miners (especially in occupations at the face), monitoring instruments could prove to be a valuable tool for reducing these overexposures.

Page last reviewed: July 18, 2016
Page last updated: March 31, 2015