Respirable coal mine dust (RCMD) exposure is associated with black lung and silicosis diseases in underground miners. Although only RCMD mass and silica concentrations are regulated, it is possible that particle size, surface area, and other chemical constituents also contribute to its adverse health effects. This review summarizes measurement technologies for RCMD mass concentrations, morphology, size distributions, and chemical compositions, with examples from published efforts where these methods have been applied. Some state-of-the-art technologies presented in this paper have not been certified as intrinsically safe, and caution should be exerted for their use in explosive environments. RCMD mass concentrations are most often obtained by filter sampling followed by gravimetric analysis, but recent requirements for real-time monitoring by continuous personal dust monitors (CPDM) enable quicker exposure risk assessments. Emerging low-cost photometers provide an opportunity for a wider deployment of real-time exposure assessment. Particle size distributions can be determined by microscopy, cascade impactors, aerodynamic spectrometers, optical particle counters, and electrical mobility analyzers, each with unique advantages and limitations. Different filter media are required to collect integrated samples over working shifts for comprehensive chemical analysis. Teflon membrane filters are used for mass by gravimetry, elements by energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence, rare-earth elements by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry and mineralogy by X-ray diffraction. Quartz fiber filters are analyzed for organic, elemental, and brown carbon by thermal/optical methods and non-polar organics by thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Polycarbonate-membrane filters are analyzed for morphology and elements by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive X-ray, and quartz content by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited