Roof bolter occupations in underground coal mines continue to experience overexposure to respirable dust. One potential source of dust in roof bolting operations is the exhaust from the roof bolter dust collection system. A wet exhaust conditioner (water box) has been developed to reduce dust emissions from the exhaust of the vacuum dust collection system on roof bolting machines. The exhaust conditioner consists of a muffler chamber and a water chamber with four internal partitions to direct airflow over the surface of the water. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a series of laboratory tests to assess the respirable dust capture ability of this device as compared to the standard exhaust muffler. To determine the dust collection efficiency, both devices were placed in the exhaust stream of a simulated roof bolter dust collection system. Gravimetric samplers were operated upstream and downstream of the exhaust conditioner and muffler to evaluate the ability to capture both respirable coal and limestone dust. Researchers observed a 41% reduction in dust concentrations for the water exhaust conditioner in the laboratory configuration. Significant levels of dust deposition in the sampling chambers may have contributed to this effective capture rate.
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