Variability of aerosol mass and number concentrations during taconite mining operations

Nima Afshar-Mohajer, Rebecca Foos, John Volckens, Gurumurthy Ramachandran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study characterized concentration metrics of airborne nanoparticles and their time series across major operations of a taconite mine through monitoring respirable and ultrafine particle concentrations at four major processing departments of the mine: crushing, dry milling, wet milling, and pelletizing (United Taconite Mine, Iron Junction, MN, USA). We used three area stations of direct-reading instruments to estimate concentration metrics including PM1 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter <1 µm), respirable dust (particles sampled according to the respirable convention with a 50% sampling efficiency at an aerodynamic diameter of 4 µm), PN (total number concentration of particles), and lung-deposited surface area concentrations (LDSA) of particles smaller than 300 nm, on two different days. Results for each station were compared using bivariate correlation analysis to obtain insight into the spatial distribution, and intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) to evaluate the between-day repeatability between the measurements. Comparability of the LDSA concentrations measured by two different devices was also investigated using linear regression. Results revealed that the pelletizing operation produced the highest average LDSA concentration on both days (with a maximum concentration of 199 ± 48 µm2/cm3 in pelletizing, 141 ± 52 µm2/cm3 in crushing, 91 ± 9 µm2/cm3 in dry milling, and 85 ± 7 µm2/cm3 in wet milling). Concentrations in all operations showed a fair to excellent between-day repeatability but they were significantly different within stations of each operation. Measured LDSA concentrations did not show a linear correlation between different instruments, except for crushing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental hygiene
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • Aerosol
  • DiSCmini
  • LDSA
  • UFP
  • crushing
  • exposure
  • milling
  • partector
  • pelletizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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