This session covers the trends in present and pending legislation involving Diesel Particulate Matter in underground mines and tunnels. The topic is of grave importance to the18,000 miners exposed to diesel exhaust fumes and particulate matter. The session will discuss background, sampling techniques, permissible exposure levels, personal protective equipment, environmental engineering controls, modifying ventilation systems, and Diesel Particulate Matter control plans and case studies. Specific recommendations will be provided to protect your workers and organization from Diesel Particulate Matter issues. Some attention will be provided to testing equipment and we will address some typical problems encountered in the evaluation of work environments.
Particulate matter is probably the type of environmental chemical hazard most on the minds of U.S. citizens. Lead in paint, asbestos in schools, radon progeny in homes. Hanta virus in sheds, and diesel smoke are all current issues in the lay press. Industrial hygienists see many other emerging particulate matter issues, including exposures to beryllium, free crystalline silica, endotoxins, toxic fungal spores, and cadmium. This session will concentrate on free crystalline silica.
In the field of industrial hygiene, particulate matter (PM) is traditionally defined as small (less than 100 micrometers in diameter) pieces of solid materials, liquid droplets, or microbiological organisms. On the other end of the spectrum, particles smaller than about 0.001 micrometer start to act like gases, and thus are not treated as particulate matter.
Diesel-powered equipment is quite common at mining, tunneling, and construction sites in the United States. At many U.S. underground metal and nonmetal mines, the equipment needed to extract the limestone, gold, silver, salt or other ore is powered by diesel engines. Examples of such equipment include vehicles such as haul trucks, front-end loaders, hydraulic shovels, load-hauldump units, face drills, and explosive trucks. Diesel engines are also used in support equipment, which might include generators, air compressors, crane trucks, ditch diggers, forklifts, graders, locomotives, lube units, personnel carriers, hydraulic power units, scalers, bull dozers, pumps (fixed, mobile, and portable), elevating work platforms, tractors, utility trucks, water spray units, and welders. For the 18,000 miners who work in this confined underground world, exposure to diesel exhaust and particulate matter is just part of the job. Underground metal and non-metal miners are exposed to the highest levels of diesel particulate matter (DPM) compared with any other occupational group in the United States. They work in poorly ventilated environments, and traditionally this industry has relied on dated, highly polluting engines.