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Smoke As An Escape And Behavioral Environment; Behavioral And Organizational Dimensions Of Underground Mine Fires
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  • Description:
    This chapter focuses on smoke as it relates to escape from underground mine fires. Among the topics discussed are the measurement of visibility in smoke; smoke-related hazards such as the production of CO, hydrochloric acid (HCI), or other byproducts of combustion; and miners' personal experiences while escaping through smoke. Smoke Measurement and Visibility In general, smoke consists of hundreds of thousands of very small particles. These particles have some "size," usually expressed in terms of their diameters, and they have some concentrations, usually expressed either in the number of these particles per unit volume or the total mass of the particles per unit volume. Humans cannot see individual smoke particles because they are too small. Similarly, "umber concentrations" and "mass concentrations" of smoke particles do not have much meaning to people unless they are trained technically. Still, individuals know that they can see smoke, independent of all the technical jargon used to describe it. Also, they know that when the smoke level gets too high, it is no longer visible. In fact, nothing is visible because the smoke absorbs all of the light in its surroundings. The eye is only sensitive to light in the wavelength region from about 400 nm to about 700 nm. The maximum sensitivity of the human eye is to light that has a wavelength of about 555 nm. It is important to know how the eye responds to light because if its response is known, it is possible to use a light detector that has almost the same response as the eye. Such a detector can then be used to quantify the visible characteristics of smoke because it responds in the same manner as the human eye. Smoke is visible because it either scatters or attenuates (diminishes) light. In some instances, smoke is visible because the smoke particles reflect light which is then detected by the eye. The eye actually "sees" an intensity of light that has been reflected from a cloud of smoke particles. Imagine shining a flashlight into a cloud of smoke. Someone off to the side can actually "see" the beam of light as it traverses the smoke cloud. This is called scattering. Smoke is also visible beĀ¬cause it attenuates light. Imagine having someone shine a flashlight into your eyes. As smoke begins to build up along the beam of the flashlight, the light begins to dim. The smoke is visible because it is now reducing the intensity of light that falls upon the eye. As the smoke level increases, it is said to obscure our visibility. When the beam is no longer visible, the smoke obscuration is said to be 100%. In other words, none of the light energy from the flashlight makes its way through the cloud of smoke. Another way of saying that the obscuration is 100% is to say that the transmission of light through the cloud is zero.

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