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3 Properties, Production, And Potential For Exposure - 3.1 Chemical And Physical Properties Of Coal Mine Dust - 3.1.1 Coal And Its Characteristics
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    Coal is a combustible, carbonaceous, sedimentary rock that is formed by the accumulation, compaction, and physical and chemical alteration of vegetation [Simon and Hopkins 1981; Bates and Jackson 1987]. Coal is classified according to its type, grade, and rank. The type of coal relates to the plant materials from which the coal originated. The grade of coal refers to the purity of the coal-or the amount of inorganic material (including ash and sulfur) left after the coal is burned [Bates and Jackson 1987; Stefanko 1983]. The rank of coal indicates its degree of metamorphosis and roughly correlates to the geological age of the coal or the geological environment from which it has been mined [Bates and Jackson 1987]. Rank also indicates the percentage of carbon in dry, mineral-free coal [Whitten and Brooks 1973] and the degree to which the coalification process has progressed [Larsen 1981]. The geological process of coalification begins with organic materials (e.g., celluloses, lignins, and other plant compounds that are deoxygenated and then dehydrogenated) and ends with coal of various geological ages, from lignite to anthracite [Larsen 1981]. Table 3- 1 presents the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) classification of coals by rank. According to Parkes [1982], high-rank coal includes anthracite and semianthracite coal ("hard coal," with 91% to 95% carbon); intermediate-rank coal includes low-, medium-, and high-volatile bituminous and sub-bituminous coal ("soft coal," with 76% to 90% carbon); and low-rank coal includes lignite (with 65% to 75% carbon or less). The rank of coal tends to increase from the western to the eastern United States, with anthracite occurring primarily in eastern Pennsylvania [Schlick and Fannick 1971]. Most of the coal currently mined in the United States is bituminous [Given 1984]. A classification of the coal in the United States is provided in Table 3-2.
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