A rural coalfield community was concerned about possible adverse impacts of mining blast sites on local air quality. Mining blast sites are a significant source of particulate matter (PM) and other potentially hazardous emissions. However, it is difficult to accurately characterize and attribute airborne PM and gaseous emissions once they have been widely dispersed. The community had multiple nearby blast sites dispersed over a large surrounding area, making it difficult to determine the specific impact of the blast sites vs. other sources of emissions.
Battelle conducted a special purpose monitoring study to characterize and document air quality while surface mine blasting operations were being conducted nearby. Various sampling and analysis methods were deployed to determine gaseous air pollutant concentrations and the mass, particle size distribution, and chemical composition of airborne particulate matter. In addition to particulate matter (PM), we analyzed concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NO/NO2/NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and compared the results to historical levels and regulatory and health-based standards.
Our techniques allowed for accurate emission characterization over a large area, and determination of the impact of the blasts vs. other sources of PM to address citizens’ concerns. As a result, we were able to determine that local air quality was well within applicable health-based standards and there was not any conclusive evidence of impact of blast emissions on air quality in the local area.