Effects of dust controls on respirable coal mine dust composition and particle sizes: case studies on auxiliary scrubbers and canopy air curtain


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Control of dust in underground coal mines is critical for mitigating both safety and health hazards. For decades, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has led research to evaluate the effectiveness of various dust control technologies in coal mines. Recent studies have included the evaluation of auxiliary scrubbers to reduce respirable dust downstream of active mining and the use of canopy air curtains (CACs) to reduce respirable dust in key operator positions. While detailed dust characterization was not a focus of such studies, this is a growing area of interest. Using preserved filter samples from three previous NIOSH studies, the current work aims to explore the effect of two different scrubbers (one wet and one dry) and a roof bolter CAC on respirable dust composition and particle size distribution. For this, the preserved filter samples were analyzed by thermogravimetric analysis and/or scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray. Results indicate that dust composition was not appreciably affected by either scrubber or the CAC. However, the wet scrubber and CAC appeared to decrease the overall particle size distribution. Such an effect of the dry scrubber was not consistently observed, but this is probably related to the particular sampling location downstream of the scrubber which allowed for significant mixing of the scrubber exhaust and other return air. Aside from the insights gained with respect to the three specific dust control case studies revisited here, this work demonstrates the value of preserved dust samples for follow-up investigation more broadly.




International Journal of Coal Science & Technology. 2024 Apr 20;11(1):33