Mining Safety: Personal Dust Monitor Filters for Accurate, Quantifiable Spectrometric Analysis and Assessment of Worker Exposure Levels


This CDC-developed invention pertains to a novel dust monitor filter that is specially constructed of organic materials for spectrometric analysis, ultimately allowing for detection and accurate quantification of a particular chosen analyte (e.g., crystalline silica/quartz dust that may lead to silicosis).

For miners, the risk of lung disease increases with the extent of dust exposure, and coal worker's pneumoconiosis (aka, black lung disease) and silicosis are still dangers routinely faced by those in the industry. Expectedly, both the concentration and the composition of airborne particulate matter present in mining environments are points of regulatory concern. For some time, collecting airborne dust samples and subsequent determination of quartz content have been integral for assessing mine worker exposure and demonstrating compliance with US Federal regulations.

Unfortunately, highly accurate spectrometric detection and quantification of particulate exposure has not always been possible. Generally, the filters used in existing oscillating microbalances (such as the TEOM® monitor) have been specially designed to for hydrophobicity, in order to retain as little moisture as possible on the filter. These specialized hydrophobic filters (and/or their mounting components) contain inorganic compounds that cannot be readily subjected to thermal or chemical destruction - a necessary first step of many instrumental analytical methods, such as spectroscopy.

This CDC-developed filter consists of entirely ashable material, making it ideal for spectrometric analysis and rapid exposure assessment. As an example, this dust monitor filter can be made entirely of organic materials and designed for quick, easy ashing that will not produce interference with the spectroscopic characteristics of the chosen analyte(s). Further, filter ashing can be carried out by a variety of methods: thermal ashing, microwave ashing, low temperature ashing, or chemical destruction.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Personal dust monitors worn wherever dust exposure levels and the presence of potentially injurious materials is evaluated
  • Occupationally-mandated pneumoconiosis, asbestosis and/or silicosis prevention and monitoring programs, for complying with safety regulations
  • Miners' wellness concern groups and insurance companies
 
  • Novel dust-monitoring instrument capable of providing near rapid particulate exposure information to miners/users
  • Improves upon older technology by allowing for accurate detection and quantification of chosen analyte(s) and, unlike other filters, does not produce overlap or interfere with spectroscopic analysis
  • Filter can be easily ashed for analysis by thermal ashing, microwave ashing, low temperature ashing, or chemical destruction


Development Stage:
  • Early-stage
  • In vitro data available


Inventors:

Donald Tuchman (CDC)  ➽ more inventions...


Intellectual Property:
U.S. Pat: 7,947,503 issued 2011-05-24
US Application No. 60/691,564
US Application No. 11/922,381

Publications:
Tuchman DP. PMID 18449405

Licensing Contact:
Karen Surabian, J.D., M.B.A.
Email: karen.surabian@nih.gov
Phone: 301-594-9719

OTT Reference No: E-312-2013/0
Updated: Mar 11, 2014