Dust Characterization and Source Apportionment at an Active Surface Mine in West Virginia


Human exposures to environmental agents occur primarily through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption. The relevant exposure pathways for coal mining will depend on a number of factors including; physical and toxicological properties of suspected agent, mining practices, and mode of agent transport. There is increasing evidence that the major transport route to Appalachian coal mining communities is fugitive dust transported from surface mine sites. However, the extent of exposure and resulting risk is unknown. As a result, site specific data is necessary to evaluate potential exposures from dust generated as a result of coal mining activities. The objective of this study is to characterize potential health risk associated with exposure to the dust collected from an active surface mine in West Virginia. Dust monitoring and sampling was conducted at an active surface mine in West Virginia. Real-time dust monitoring device (DustTrak DRX Aerosol Monitor 8534) was used to measure PM1, PM2.5, PM10, and Total PM mass and size fractions. Dust monitoring was conducted for overburden and coal loading operations, and trucks at the haul roads. In addition, dust samples associated with drill cuttings, cóal haul roads, overburden haul roads, wheel loader for shale overburden, and rope shovel operations were collected from various areas in the mine. Dust samples collected from the mine underwent particle size analysis and collection of ingestible and respirable size fractions followed by elemental analysis. The chemical data combined with the monitoring data allowed for exposure due to dust exposure to be calculated using standard risk equations. Using the same default values for exposure frequency, exposure duration, and averaging time; exposure due to background soil and dust was calculated in order to estimate risk of disease incident in non-coal mining communities. The 95th percentile PM10 concentrations at 9-11m from the various mining practices were 0.12, 0.084, 0.62 and 0.43 mg/m3 for coal road trucking (truck-coal), wheel loader, overburden trucking (truck-overburden), and rope shovel operations respectively. Results indicate that even with an extreme scenario; 95th percentile air particulate concentrations 9-11 m from the mining operation, 365 days/year for 70 years, exposure to constituents via inhalation accounts for a relatively small portion of total exposure when everyday incidental ingestion of native soil is considered. Dust generated from an active WV coal mine did not account for a majority of exposure to constituents that could potentially result in health effects. Rather, default USEPA values for calculating ingestion exposure suggest that everyday residential exposure to native WV soil may account for more than 70% of the total exposure to the 18 inorganic constituents quantified in this study.

Meeting Name

2nd Environmental Considerations in Energy Production Conference (2015: Pittsburgh, PA)


Mining Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Coal; Coal Dust; Construction Equipment; Dust; Health Risks; Loaders; Mine Dust; Mine Trucks; Mining; Mining Machinery; Monitoring; Particle Size; Particle Size Analysis; Particles (Particulate Matter); Risk Perception; Rope; Shovels; Soils; Surface Mine Transportation; Transportation; Trucks; Wheels; Environmental Agents; Exposure Durations; Loading Operations; Potential Exposure; Potential Health Risks; Source Apportionment; Surface Mine Sites; Toxicological Properties; Coal Mines

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2015 Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2015

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