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Airborne microbial ecology in an underground coal mine.

Rao C; Martin J; Cocalis J
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :94
Underground coal mines may be an environment with exposures to airborne fungi and bacteria. The environments are often water-laden due to dust-suppression systems, ground water seepage and/or high relative humidities. We investigated the airborne microbial ecology at the longwall face of an underground coal mine. Samples for bacteria and fungi in air were collected in duplicate on 0.2 micrometer polyethersulfone filters using open-faced 37-millimeter cassettes at four locations (one location outside and three locations underground: at the headgate, the shearer and the tailgate). Air was drawn through the filters at a rate of 2.5 Liters/minute for either 3 or 5 minutes. The filters were washed, serially diluted, and then cultured onto malt extract agar for fungal count and speciation, or cultured onto trypticase soy agar for bacteria counts and speciation. Fungi concentrations in the mine ranged to 9.6 x 101/3 Colony Forming Units per cubic meter of air (CFU/mI/3) and bacteria concentrations ranged from below the level of detection to 1.4 x 101/5 CFU/mI/3. The predominant fungal genus outside the mine was Cladosporium and the predominant fungal genera inside the mine were Cladosporium, Penicillia, and basidiospores. The bacteria found in the mine air included Actinomycetes, Rhodococcus, Actinobacter, and Pseudomonas. The results indicate that airborne concentrations at the three underground locations were dependent upon the shearer location in relation to the sampling location and shearer activity level. In addition, there were differences in microorganism concentration and species outside and underground.
Airborne-dusts; Airborne-particles; Coal-mining; Coal-dust; Coal-miners; Fungi; Bacteria; Microbial-test-systems; Sampling; Underground-mining; Microorganisms; Dust-suppression; Dust-control; Dust-control-equipment; Mining-industry; Mine-workers; Miners
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Work Environment and Workforce: Special Populations
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division