Chelsea Barrett1, Emily Sarver 1, Emanuele Cauda2, James Noll2, Shawn Vanderslice2, Jon Volkwein3

Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
CDC/NIOSH Pittsburgh Mining Research Division, Pittsburgh, PA 15236, USA
Science Consultant, Canonsburg, PA 15317, USA

Received: June 14, 2019
Revised: September 5, 2019
Accepted: September 5, 2019
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Cite this article:
Barrett, C., Sarver, E., Cauda, E., Noll, J., Vanderslice, S. and Volkwein, J. (2019). Comparison of Several DPM Field Monitors for Use in Underground Mining Applications. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 19: 2367-2380.


  • DPM represents an occupational health hazard in some underground mines.
  • Aside from personal exposure monitoring, continuous area monitoring may be valuable.
  • Here, two aethalometers and an OCEC field analyzer were tested head-to-head.
  • Testing was conducted in a controlled laboratory chamber, and an underground mine.



To improve worker health protection and support engineering applications in underground mines, such as ventilation-on-demand, capabilities are increasingly sought for continuous monitoring of diesel particulate matter (DPM). For near real-time monitoring over periods up to a full workshift, the FLIR Airtec handheld monitor was developed and calibrated to the NIOSH Standard Method 5040 measure of elemental carbon (EC), which is commonly used as an analytical surrogate for DPM. However, needs still exist for autonomous monitoring over longer periods (e.g., weeks to months). To meet those needs, two commercially available instruments are considered here, the Magee Scientific AE33 Aethalometer and the Sunset Laboratory Semi-continuous OC-EC Field Analyzer. Along with a prototyped monitor called the Airwatch, these were tested head-to-head against the Method 5040 EC and the Airtec in a controlled laboratory setting; and against one another in a field study at an underground mine. Key findings include: the OC-EC field analyzer performed well across a wide range of EC concentrations; the AE33 performed well at relatively low concentrations, but modifications or additional data corrections are likely needed at higher concentrations; and the Airwatch showed good potential, though significant improvements will be required if this instrument is to be further developed, including resolution of several mechanical issues and selection of an appropriate filter material and development of robust data corrections. Moreover, the relative advantages and disadvantages associated with each instrument (e.g., in terms of data quality, complexity and maintenance) must be considered in the context of the intended application and sampling environment.

Keywords: Diesel particulate matter; Occupational health; Continuous monitoring; Ultrafine aerosol; Underground mines.

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