The objective is to accurately measure very low air velocities (0-100 ft/min) in U.S. large-opening underground metal/nonmetal mines. Hundreds of metal/nonmetal underground mines operate throughout the United States. They extract commercial products from deposits such as limestone, salt, and gypsum. Mining generates a wide variety of gases and dusts, such as silica, diesel exhaust, radon, blasting byproducts, and perhaps even methane. If these substances become airborne, they can adversely affect the health and safety of underground workers. Many metal/nonmetal mines have large cross-sectional airways that could be 60 times larger than an average underground coal mine entry. These large airways require adequate volumes of fresh air to dilute, make harmless, and exhaust the toxic and, at times, explosive byproducts. However, in some underground mine sections, air movement is barely perceptible. The technology of measuring very low air velocities will become increasingly more important for operators of large-opening stone mines in order to monitor miner exposure to diesel particulate matter. Conventional anemometers (e.g., vane) are capable of accurately measuring air velocities only above 100 ft/min. Thus, it was necessary to investigate other anemometry technology to detect low air velocities in the range of 0-100 ft/min. Two different portable ultrasonic anemometers were tested. Actual testing was done in an underground limestone mine with openings about 51 ft wide by 29 ft high.
Robert J. Timko, NIOSH Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 18070, Cochrans Mill Rd., Pittsburgh, PA