Presentation Abstract

Title: Ammonia Exposures During Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage from a Coal Mine with Anhydrous Ammonia

Authors: Sarah Canter and John W. Spencer

Presented at: AIHce 2001, New Orleans, LA

Acid mine drainage is produced when metals are liberated from the ground as a result of coal mining. When water flows through the mine tailing waste piles, the metals become dissolved in the water and sulfuric acid is formed. This drainage must be treated to raise its pH, as its release to the environment can cause damage to ecosystems located downstream from the mine. Several methods are available to treat this drainage. The method investigated in this study used anhydrous ammonia to precipitate the metals out of the drainage material in holding ponds. This study evaluated the likely exposures that workers performing dredging activities and other maintenance activites associated with the process of delivering ammonia to acid mine drainage during the winter and the summer. A pond containing acid mine drainage was treated with anhydrous ammonia. Air sampling was performed at locations both pond side and on a boat in the middle of the pond. Additionally, grab samples using colorimetric sampling tubes were obtained throughout the treatment period. During both the winter and summer sampling, all air monitoring indicated that the applicable MSHA 8-hour time weighted exposure limit of 50 parts per million was not exceeded.

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