Mining Contract: Miniaturized PDM Providing Smaller, Lighter, Quieter and Lower Cost Operation

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Contract # 75D30118C02590
Start Date 9/1/2018
End Date 8/16/2019
Research Concept

The technology anticipated upon completion of this contract could be valuable to the industry, as current PDM units are commonly perceived as bulky. Current units are only mandated to be worn for compliance sampling, but having  smaller, less expensive units to wear every shift may offer additional benefits to miners.

Contract Status & Impact

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

Respirable dust—particles that are so small they are deposited into the lungs when inhaled—are imperceptible to the naked eye, but the effects can be long-lasting and permanent. Black lung disease causes irreversible breathing problems that affect quality of life and often lead to disability and premature death.

Historic dust sampling equipment only provided an average dust concentration over the entire sampling period, not dynamic data as conditions changed within a shift. The recently implemented continuous personal dust monitor (PDM) provides time-correlated data, but is bulky and heavier than desired. Currently, MSHA regulations require that coal mines check for respirable coal mine dust exposures for certain high-risk occupations over the course of 15 consecutive shifts each calendar quarter. The current version of the PDM offers information to workers while in the mine and has led to improvements in complying with applicable dust standards.

Many miners have said they would like to use a continuous PDM to monitor their dust exposure even when it’s not a designated sampling period. However, the weight, bulkiness, and expense have hindered use of this instrument beyond that required for compliance sampling.

This contract with Biomarine  seeks to address this problem by designing and developing a miniaturized personal dust monitor based on measuring the impact of accelerated dust particles upon a stationary piezo-film.

Page last reviewed: August 28, 2019
Page last updated: January 11, 2019