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Overview of respirable dust control for underground coal mines in the United States.

Haney R; Ondrey R; Stoltz R
Proceedings of the VIIth International Pneumoconioses Conference, August 23-26, 1988, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-108, 1990 Sep; (Part I):43-45
Controlling dust exposures in United States (US) coal mines was discussed. Federal regulations pertaining to dust control in coal mines were considered. The primary responsibility for enforcing the respirable dust standard in coal mines resides with the federal government since most states do not specify a respirable dust standard. The current authority to establish and enforce a respirable coal mine dust standard was given to the Mine Safety and Health Administration as a result of the federal Mine Safety and Health (MSH) Act of 1977. Specific regulations pertaining to the coal dust standard and dust control are contained in Title 30 of the Code of federal regulations. These mandate a respirable coal dust standard of 2.0mg/m3, and a dust standard of 1.0mg/m3 for the intake air. Controlling dust exposures in continuous miner sections was discussed. Control techniques include exhausting and blowing face ventilation and using directional sprays (spray fan systems). The spray fan systems are mounted on the body of the miner and are designed to direct the dust cloud away from the mining machine operator. Dust control on conventional mining sections was described. Dust control for conventional cutting operations is achieved by using wet cutter bars, external water sprays mounted above the cutter bars, and appropriate coal face ventilation. Dust control on longwall mining panels was discussed. Control methods normally used to control dust generated by longwall shearers include internal water sprays in or on the shearer cutting drum, external water sprays located on the shearer body, remote control devices that allow the operator to control the shearer from various locations, and administrative controls. The most common administrative control is to reduce the amount of time the miners spend on the face. The author notes that before the MSH Act, respirable dust concentrations of 9mg/m3 were quite common in US coal mines. The industry wide average coal dust exposure at this time is around 1.0mg/m3.
Underground mining; Dust suppression; Coal dust; Coal mining; Occupational exposure; Health protection; Work practices; Legislation; Standards; Mining equipment
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 90-108
Source Name
Proceedings of the VIIth International Pneumoconioses Conference, August 23-26, 1988, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Page last reviewed: June 15, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division