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Development of an Aerosol Testing Chamber for Mining Environments and Evaluation of New Silica Dust Mass Concentration Methods Using the NIOSH FTIR Standard Technique
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Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) and respirable coal dust are a health hazard for industrial workers, mainly in the mining industry, which has to be monitored and have their concentration controlled under permissible limits. Innumerous techniques for silica and coal monitoring have been applied in mining environments, but most of them with the shortcomings of time taken to collect the sample, process the data, and calculate the concentrations. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has developed a monitoring technique, based on filter sampling and FTIR transmission spectroscopy, for respirable crystalline silica that can provide mass concentrations by the end of the working shift, applying a software that is capable of calculating the silica mass on the filter and the silica mass concentration.This manuscript aims to discuss the new dust generation and aerosol testing chamber developed at the University of Nevada, Reno, for dust monitoring and the evaluation of new silica dust mass concentration methods using the NIOSH FTIR standard technique. The contributions of this work include: 1) A review of RCS and coal health hazards, time integrated methods for characterization and quantification, and current silica monitoring methods. 2) The development of the aerosol testing chamber for mining environments and the application of the NIOSH FTIR standard technique. 3) Evaluation of new monitoring methods using the NIOSH FTIR standard technique. The new method is based on dust absorption spectra measurements obtained with a photoacoustic spectrometer equipped with a tunable quantum cascade laser.