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Investigation of purging and airlock contamination of mobile refuge alternatives.

Bauer ER; Matty TJ; Thimons ED
Pittsburgh, PA: 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. 2014-116, (RI 9694), 2014 Mar; :1-51
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) has conducted research to evaluate the effectiveness of purging of mine refuge alternatives (RAs). Two questions were addressed experimentally: (1) Does the current generation of mobile refuge alternatives meet the requirements of 30 CFR4 § 7.508 (c) (2) which requires RAs to be capable of purging the internal atmosphere from 400 ppm of carbon monoxide (CO) to 25 ppm? (2) What is the relationship between the concentration of noxious gases in the mine atmosphere external to the refuge alternative and the concentration that will be present inside the refuge alternative following entry of miners but prior to purging? The goal of the second question was to evaluate the appropriateness of the 400-ppm criterion, given that ambient post-accident mine concentrations of CO can be in the thousands of ppm. A tent-type and a rigid steel mobile refuge alternative were used to investigate the first question. Carbon monoxide (CO) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) were used as contaminant gases as part of this study, and the individual experiments were conducted with the purging area of the RA occupied by zero, one, or seven simulated (when CO was used) or live (when SF6 was used) occupants. To investigate the second question, the aforementioned RAs were used along with a third airlock constructed for and employed in the experiments. The volume and size of the entry door into the constructed airlock were roughly in the middle of the range of values for the rigid and tent-type RAs. The RAs and constructed airlock were placed in a large sealed reverberation room, and SF6 gas was released into the reverberation room as a surrogate for CO. Experiments were conducted to determine the gas concentrations inside the airlock after groups of test subjects (representing miners) had entered.
Mining-industry; Air-contamination; Miners; Humans; Men; Women; Risk-analysis; Respiratory-protection; Mine-disasters; Mine-rescue; Mine-workers; Mine-escapes
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Report of Investigations
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2014-116; RI-9694; M032014
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division