Development and Demonstration of a Standard Methodology for Respirable Coal Mine Dust Characterization Using SEM-EDX

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the potential for a more comprehensive method of analysis of coal mine dust. Respirable dust is specifically of interest due to its ability to cause occupational lung disease when miners are overexposed to airborne concentrations. A detailed standard methodology to characterize respirable mine dust is carefully investigated with the use of scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray (SEM-EDX). In addition to a thorough description of the developed particle level characterization approach, the method is demonstrated with underground respirable dust samples collected from an underground coal mine in Central Appalachia.

Results of this thesis indicate that a comprehensive dust characterization method is possible and can be efficient and effective, when standardized. This analytical approach uses measured compositions, dimensions, and shapes to produce an abundance of data in even a single sample of dust. Verification results show the method is suitable for analysis of respirable particles of common coal mine mineralogy and analysis of many samples in a timely manner. The results obtained from the underground samples in Central Appalachia reveal the quantity of information which can be generated using the developed method. The amount of data which is acquired using the more comprehensive dust characterization method may aid in understanding the health effects of various dust characteristics.

Respirable, Coal Mining, CWP, Silicosis, Dust Exposure, SEM, EDX Spectrum, Characterization, Composition, Size and Shape, Particle