Using Laser Absorption Techniques to Monitor Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure in Underground Stone Mines
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Using Laser Absorption Techniques to Monitor Diesel Particulate Matter Exposure in Underground Stone Mines

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    Underground miners are exposed to some of the highest levels of diesel particulate matter (DPM) in the United States. Therefore, it is important to monitor the exposure of miners to DPM, but it can be difficult because of the complex composition of DPM and the number of interferences. Currently, elemental carbon (EC) is used as a surrogate because it makes up a significant fraction of the DPM and is not affected by interferences. Standard measurement methods for EC can be time consuming and only record end of shift results. In this research, a laser absorption technique that enables one to measure EC concentration in near real time was shown to be a beneficial tool. The real time data showed that the fresh air being drawn into a stone mine was not properly reaching the working area and needed to be redirected to decrease DPM concentrations. The real time data also provided a more accurate efficiency of an environmental cab compared to just using the standard method by detecting the opening of the cab's window and door. The EC optical monitor was also worn by researchers in a mine to show how it can give not only the average concentration for the shift but also reveal when and where a miner is exposed to DPM. Keywords: Laser absorption, diesel, elemental carbon, mining, exposure
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