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Sources and Characteristics of Particulate Matter at Five Locations in an Underground Mine

Category: Aerosol and Atmospheric Chemistry

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DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.03.0118
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Sanna Saarikoski 1, Laura Salo2, Matthew Bloss1, Jenni Alanen2, Kimmo Teinilä1, Felipe Reyes3, Yeanice Vázquezuez3, Jorma Keskinen2, Pedro Oyola3, Topi Rönkkö2, Hilkka Timonen1

  • 1 Atmospheric Composition Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2 Aerosol Physics Laboratory, Physics Unit, Tampere University, FI-33720 Tampere, Finland
  • 3 Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies in Energy and Environment, Santiago, Chile


  • Particle physical and chemical properties were measured in an underground mine.
  • Number and mass concentration depend on measurement location inside the mine.
  • Diesel vehicles and blastings produce majority of PM1 in mine air.
  • PM1 comprised mostly of organic matter and black carbon.
  • Sulfate, nitrate and ammonium were mostly related to blastings.


Sources and characteristics of particulate matter (PM) were determined in a modern underground chrome mine in Finland. Measurements were conducted at five locations in the mine: the maintenance area, blasting area, ore pit dumping area, crushing station and conveyor belt. The measurement set-up consisted of a Soot Particle Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (SP-AMS) for particle chemical composition, Electrical Low Pressure Impactor, nano-Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer and Optical Particle Counter for particle number and mass size distribution, and Aethalometer for black carbon (BC). Particle number and mass concentration depended strongly on the measurement location and period. PM10 varied from 22 to 1100 µg m-3 and total number concentration from 1.7 x 103 to 2.3 x105 # cm-3 in the mine. In terms of chemical composition, submicron particles (PM1) consisted mostly of organic matter and BC, but at the blasting site also the fraction of sulfate was significant. The SP-AMS data was analyzed with Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) to identify and quantify the main sources of PM1 in the mine. Based on the PMF analysis, PM1 originated mostly from diesel engines (35–84%) and blastings (7–60%). The impact of blastings on mine air quality may become more pronounced in future as the emissions from diesel engines decrease due to alternative fuels and better engine and after-treatment technologies.


Chemical composition Aerosol mass spectrometer Source apportionment

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