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Mine Aerosol Measurement - Introduction
  • Published Date:
    0/1/1900
Filetype[PDF - 514.11 KB]


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  • Description:
    Exposure to mineral aerosol is an occupational health hazard in mining and mineral processing industries because of the risk of developing pneumoconiosis. Agricola (1556) described this hazard for metal mining in Carpathia. He described shortness of breath and consumption, conditions that are now associated with asthma and emphysema. By the end of the nineteenth century, several respiratory diseases were known to affect miners, including silicosis and coal workers' pneumoconiosis (Fletcher, 1948; Seaton et al., 1981). For example, silicosis, not tuberculosis, was clearly recognized as the hazard in the Vermont granite quarries and stone-cutting sheds (McFarland, 1927). The Gauly Bridge Tunnel disaster in the mid-1930s caused the deaths of an estimated 700 workers by acute silicosis and focused the nation's attention on this disease (Cherniack, 1986). By the mid-twentieth century, it was clear that risk of simple pneumoconiosis is associated with a miner's cumulative exposure to mine aerosol in the respirable size range and that prevention lies in reducing that exposure through regulation (Seaton, 1986). In the United States, regulation of mine worker exposure to airborne mine dust is the responsibility of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in the U.S. Department of Labor. The key legislation relating to improved mine worker health was the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, enacted in 1969 (U.S. Congress, 1969) and subsequently amended as the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (U.S. Congress, 1977). MSHA receives technical assistance from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH also provides recommended exposure limits (RELs) for contaminants to MSHA. MSHA's regulation of mines includes the establishment of a dust standard administratively based on the these RELs. Some mine operators must submit a dust control plan designed to meet the dust standard. Periodic mine inspections determine if mines are com- plying with both the dust standard and the dust control plans (MSHA, 1991). The most common dust measurements are those for respirable dust (according to the definition given in Fig. 26-7), that is, the fraction of aerosol particles able to reach the gas exchange region of the lungs. The other health-related size fractions (inhalable and thoracic-see Fig. 25-1, and "total" dust) are also occasionally measured. A "total" dust measurement is defined by the common practice of the last 30 years or so, using 25 mm or 37mm plastic cassettes (e.g., from PAL, MIL, SKC ). The types of mines have been categorized

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