Article

Field Assessment of Enclosed Cab Filtration System Performance Using Particle Counting Measurements

a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health , Office of Mine Safety and Health Research , Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (Impact Factor: 1.17). 09/2013; 10(9):468-77. DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2013.818240
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Enclosed cab filtration systems are typically used on mobile mining equipment to reduce miners' exposure to airborne dust generated during mining operations. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Office of Mine Safety and Health Research (OMSHR) has recently worked with a mining equipment manufacturer to examine a new cab filtration system design for underground industrial minerals equipment. This cab filtration system uses a combination of three particulate filters to reduce equipment operators' exposure to dust and diesel particulates present in underground industrial mineral mines. NIOSH initially examined this cab filtration system using a two-instrument particle counting method at the equipment company's manufacturing shop facility to assess several alternative filters. This cab filtration system design was further studied on several pieces of equipment during a two- to seven-month period at two underground limestone mines. The two-instrument particle counting method was used outside the underground mine at the end of the production shifts to regularly test the cabs' long-term protection factor performance with particulates present in the ambient air. This particle counting method showed that three of the four cabs achieved protection factors greater than 1,000 during the field studies. The fourth cab did not perform at this level because it had a damaged filter in the system. The particle counting measurements of submicron particles present in the ambient air were shown to be a timely and useful quantification method in assessing cab performance during these field studies.

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    ABSTRACT: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has observed that many control rooms and operator compartments in the U.S. mining industry do not have filtration systems capable of maintaining low dust concentrations in these areas. In this study at a mineral processing plant, to reduce respirable dust concentrations in a control room that had no cleaning system for intake air, a filtration and pressurization system originally designed for enclosed cabs was modified and installed. This system was composed of two filtering units: one to filter outside air and one to filter and recirculate the air inside the control room. Eighty-seven percent of submicrometer particles were reduced by the system under static conditions. This means that greater than 87 percent of respirable dust particles should be reduced as the particle-size distribution of respirable dust particles is greater than that of submicrometer particles, and filtration systems usually are more efficient in capturing the larger particles. A positive pressure near 0.02 inches of water gauge was produced, which is an important component of an effective system and minimizes the entry of particles, such as dust, into the room. The intake airflow was around 118 cfm, greater than the airflow suggested by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for acceptable indoor air quality. After one year, the loading of the filter caused the airflow to decrease to 80 cfm, which still produces acceptable indoor air quality. Due to the loading of the filters, the reduction efficiency for submicrometer particles under static conditions increased to 94 percent from 87 percent.
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