Small Scale Study of the Role of The Muckpile in the Blasting Fumes of Commercial Explosives
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Blasting fumes are an important safety topic for the mining industry because toxic fumes are generated by the detonation of explosives. Prediction of the amount and concentration of blasting fumes is important for underground mines to provide enough ventilation to ensure worker safety. The production of toxic fumes in open pit mines is a significant hazard to workers and surrounding communities because fumes are easily able to travel from the blast zone with wind. An important hazard often overlooked is the potential for blasting fumes to remain trapped in the blasted material until it is handled or for the fumes to slowly escape to the atmosphere. The present investigation into blasting fumes examines the real time concentrations of the fumes produced after detonation using a continual gas analyzer. The fumes analyzed were nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The first set of experiments studied the effect of accepted factors affecting fume production, mainly product formulation and confinement. The second set of experiments simulated fumes travelling through blasted material in an attempt to measure the portion of fumes that remain trapped after detonation and to observe the fume output over a long amount of time. This improves on previous studies by analyzing the sample continuously throughout the period of concern, instead of obtaining few discrete samples that require offsite analysis. The results show product formulation and type are major factors of toxic fume production. Emulsion explosives produced very little toxic fumes and ANFO, no matter the composition, would always produce some amount of toxic fume. On average, ANFO produced 4.5 times the amount of CO and 7.5 times the amount of NO2 as compared to the emulsion explosive. In the case of ANFO, confinement has a significant effect on toxic fume production. The set of experiments on fume entrapment indicated significant amounts, up to 70%, of blasting fumes are trapped in the muckpile and are released when the muckpile is disturbed, presenting potential health hazards to workers in the area.