Comparison of respirable coal mine dust constituents estimated using FTIR, TGA, and SEM-EDX


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Since the mid-1990s, there has been a resurgence of severe lung disease among US coal miners. This has prompted efforts to better characterize and monitor respirable dust exposures—especially with respect to mineral constituents sourced from rock strata surrounding the coal, which is believed to play a central role in many cases of disease. Recently, a rapid analysis method for silica (quartz) mass has been developed using direct-on-filter Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. It can concurrently provide an estimate of kaolinite, presumably a primary silicate mineral in many coal mines. Other methods, including thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive X-ray (SEM–EDX), can also be used to estimate respirable coal mine dust constituents. However, there have been few efforts to compare results across multiple methods. Here, FTIR, TGA, and SEM–EDX were used to analyze 93 sets of respirable dust samples collected in 16 underground coal mines across the USA.



Metallurgy & Metallurgical Engineering, Mining & Mineral Processing, SILICA