Abstract

Airborne dust generated by primary blasting was collected in Taff’s Well Quarry, just north of Cardiff, Wales. Collections of airborne particulate matter were also made in the nearby village of Morganstown at the same time as the blasting collections. The explosions were recorded on a motor-driven camera and a digital video camera. These images show that the dust clouds generated by the explosions consist of three distinct components; a reddish-grey dust cloud, followed by a light grey dust cloud, and finally a pale grey cloud that stayed near the blast face. It is believed that the reddish-grey cloud was composed mostly of mineral grains, as evidenced by the chiefly red colour of the dolomitic limestone rock in the quarry. The whiter clouds contained more explosive combustion particles (diesel soot). The samples were studied by analytical scanning electron microscopy, very high-resolution field emission scanning electron microscopy, and image analysis. The two different components (minerals and diesel soot) can be readily seen under high-resolution electron microscopy. Any consideration of the possible adverse health effects or nuisance value of this dust needs to consider both of these components. A size distribution of the quarry particles shows that soot particles dominate the assemblage under 2 μm, whereas the mineral grains are more abundant over 2 μm. This contrasts with the Morganstown particle sizes, where the two components show similar size distributions. The determination of the mineralogy of the quarry dust and Morganstown particles has shown highly complex and heterogeneous mixtures, though some distribution patterns are emerging. It is concluded that much of the dust in Morganstown probably originated from sources other than the quarry, such as other local industries, roads and construction sites.

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