Implementing A New Personal Dust Monitor As An Engineering Tool
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Implementing A New Personal Dust Monitor As An Engineering Tool

  • 2005

  • Source: IOHA 2005. 6th International Scientific Conference of the International Occupational Hygiene Association, 19-23 September, 2005, Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province, South Africa. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2005 Sep; :201
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    A new personal respirable dust monitor developed by Rupprecht & Patashnick Co., Inc. in a multi-year project funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) generated promising results in underground coal mine testing performed by NIOSH and industry representatives during the summer of 2003. The mine data showed that the personal dust monitor (PDM) performed similarly to co-located manual reference samplers for full-shift samples at all four underground coal mines at which the evaluation took place. The technology that forms the heart of the PDM, called the tapered element oscillating microbalance (TEOM system), is unique in its ability to collect suspended particles on a filter while simultaneously determining the accumulated mass with National Institute of Standards and Technology traceability. Because the monitor measures the true particle mass collected on its filter, its results do not exhibit the same sensitivity to water spray as do optically based measurement approaches. The technique achieves microgram-level mass resolution even in the hostile mine environment, and reports dust loading data on a continuous basis. Using the device, miners and mine operators have the ability to view both the cumulative and projected end-of-shift mass concentration values, as well as a short-term 15- or 30-minute running average. During underground mine trials in the summer of 2003, technical personnel used the readings from the PDM to identify and correct several abnormal dust generating scenarios. These events demonstrated the potential of the PDM to be used as an engineering tool to evaluate the effectiveness of various dust control strategies. In a separate evaluation performed by CONSOL Energy, Inc., the mine operator evaluated the benefit of a proposed new water spray-based dust control system. Engineers measured the dust concentration upstream and downstream of a production location under different dust control scenarios using two PDM units. By evaluating the change in the dust loading between the upstream and downstream monitoring sites, the company was able to determine in a few hours which hardware configuration would yield the greatest benefit to the workplace environment. BACKGROUND Measuring underground coal mine dust concentrations is an essential part of protecting miners' health. The U.S. Secretary of Labor and the Federal Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Pneumoconiosis among Coal Mine Workers has recommended that better monitoring of coal miner dust exposures be used as a method to improve miner health. In consultation with labor, industry, and government, NIOSH issued a contract to Rupprecht & Patashnick Co., Inc. (R&P), Albany, N.Y., to develop a one-piece PDM. The object was to miniaturize TEOM technology into a form suitable for a person-wearable monitor that would enable accurate end-of-shift dust exposure information to be available to miners. Furthermore, any person-wearable dust monitor should minimize the burden to the wearer by incorporating the monitor into the mine worker's cap lamp battery, with exposure data continually displayed during the shift to enable workers and management to react to changes in dust exposure. In the summer of 2003, NIOSH conducted extensive testing of the PDM to determine its laboratory and in mine performance. In addition, anecdotal information collected in the mines showed several occasions where miners were able to identify situations that produced high levels of respirable coal mine dust The PDM's response to unplanned changes resulted in action being taken to keep dust exposures as low as possible. In another case that demonstrated the PDM's versatility, a mine was seeking to find a better dust control solution on its longwall headgate stageloader. In this instance, the PDM was used as a diagnostic tool by the miners to quickly evaluate the control technology. [ ] HOW DOES THE PDM WORK? The PDM is configured t
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