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A story of impact: a real-time monitor to prevent coal dust explosion hazards in the mining industry.

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-205, 2011 Aug; :1-2
Mine explosions remain a threat to underground coal miners, requiring constant vigilance to prevent accumulations of combustible gasses and dusts and to limit sources of ignition. Accumulations of combustible dust in coal mines create the risk of large-scale explosions that can result in multiple deaths and traumatic injuries. The explosion hazard can be effectively controlled through the application of rock dust, such as limestone dust, to render inert the combustible coal dust generated during the mining and transport of coal. Traditionally, determining when additional rock dust should be applied or evaluating the effectiveness of existing rock dust application has been limited to a subjective visual evaluation or to the collection and laboratory analysis of dust samples - a process that requires days or weeks to identify a hazard. For decades, miners have been able to monitor the concentrations of methane and other combustible gasses using handheld, direct reading gas detectors. These detectors have allowed miners to take immediate action to dilute gasses and prevent explosions. With this same purpose in mind, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed a real-time dust explosibility measuring instrument to provide instant feedback to miners on the relative hazard of dust accumulations in the mine and the effectiveness of their rock dusting practices. This instrument, the Coal Dust Explosibility Meter (CDEM), is a simple-to-use handheld device that provides a pass/fail assessment of coal mine dust samples. With this device, miners, mine operators and regulators will have the information necessary to take immediate action to eliminate an explosion hazard.
Mining-industry; Underground-mining; Coal-mining; Coal-dust; Coal-gas; Explosion-prevention; Explosive-atmospheres; Explosive-dusts; Explosive-gases; Monitors; Monitoring-systems; Analytical-instruments; Analytical-processes
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Impact Sheet
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-205
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division