Controlling Diesel Particulate Matter in Underground Mines

Diesel engine exhaust is a complex mixture of toxic gases and particulates produced from the combustion of diesel fuel. It is classified as a Group 1 definite human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Exposure to diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer, and there is limited evidence that it may cause bladder cancer. Diesel engines are widely used in mining for many different applications. According to CAREX Canada, approximately 9,100 workers in the Ontario mining industry are estimated to be exposed to diesel engine exhaust.

The diagram below showcases the control strategies available for diesel engine exhaust in the Ontario mining sector. It incorporates the Hierarchy of Controls, where control strategies are ranked from most effective (elimination or substitution) to least effective (personal protective equipment). The diagram also distinguishes between proactive controls (which eliminate or reduce diesel emissions before they enter workplace air) and reactive controls (which reduce the concentration of diesel emissions already present in workplace air, or reduce the likelihood that workers will inhale the emissions). Proactive controls are generally considered to be more effective than reactive controls. An effective emissions control program utilises multiple controls from across the Hierarchy, and includes a monitoring program to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

Click on the diagram below to enlarge it. Click on any of the text boxes to bring up more information about the control strategies.