A Standard Characterization Methodology for Respirable Coal Mine Dust Using SEM-EDX
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A key consideration for responsible development of mineral and energy resources is the well-being of workers. Respirable dust in mining environments represents a serious concern for occupational health. In particular, coal miners can be exposed to a variety of dust characteristics depending on their work activities, and some exposures may pose risk for lung diseases like CWP and silicosis. As underscored by common regulatory frameworks, respirable dust exposures are generally characterized on the basis of total mass concentration, and also the silica mass fraction. However, relatively little emphasis has been placed on other dust characteristics that may be important in terms of identifying health risks. Comprehensive particle-level analysis to estimate chemistry, size, and shape distributions of particles is possible. This paper describes a standard methodology for characterization of respirable coal mine dust using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive X-ray (EDX). Preliminary verification of the method is shown based several dust samples collected from an underground mine in Central Appalachia.