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Transforming Old Mine Shafts

Transforming old mine shafts into future storage sites
February 12, 2018 by Nancy Owano, Tech Xplore

Just as there is an interest in sources of energy, there is also an urgent keen interest in storage. What is viable, as in what can work efficiently and make economic sense?

“Companies around the world are pouring time and money into projects to develop large-scale batteries to store energy and release it when there is greater demand on the grid,” said Greig Cameron, Scottish Business Editor, The Times.

That is one focal point, but an innovative company called Gravitricity, reported on this month by The Times and several other publications, thinks of another way to store energy.

Gravitricity Managing Director Charlie Blair: “So far there is a lot of focus on batteries, but our idea is quite different.”

Mining Technology quoted him: “It’s a simple case of ‘What goes up, must come down’.”

Its system can operate for decades without any reduction in performance. The company said the system had a 50-year design life with no cycle limit or degradation.

So what is their technology? They want to use old mine shafts for energy stores. These would be disused mine shafts transformed into energy facilities through a system that uses gravity and massive weights.

ESI Africa said that according to Blair, the company was “keen to speak with mine operators in South Africa” to understand how they might work together.

The technology operates in the 1MW to 20 MW power range. (Each unit can be configured to produce between 1 and 20MW peak power, with the output duration from 15 minutes to 8 hours.) The company said their technology has similar advantages to pumped storage for networks up to 33kV, but it does not need any nearby mountain with a lake or loch at the top.

“A cylindrical weight of up to 3000 tonnes is suspended in a deep shaft by a number of synthetic ropes each of which is engaged with a winch capable of lifting its share of the weight. Electrical power is then absorbed or generated by raising or lowering the weight. The weight is guided by a system of tensioned guide wires (patents applied for) to prevent it from swinging and damaging the shaft. The winch system can be accurately controlled through the electrical drives to keep the weight stable in the hole.” That is how the company explains what the system is about.

Time of response is impressive. The system should be able to respond to fluctuations in demand almost instantly. The company stated response time as “zero to full power in less than one second.”

The company was awarded a £650,000 grant by the British Government agency Innovate UK.

A deep hole in the ground can be a disused mineshaft brought back into use, or a purpose-sunk shaft, said the company. Shaft depths can be from 150m for new shafts down to 1500m for existing mines.

Costs for such a system? Blair said the biggest single cost was the hole, “and that is why the start-up is developing their technology using existing mine shafts,” said ESI-Africa.

The company said they will prove the technology using existing mine shafts. “As our technology costs decrease, the costs of drilling will reduce significantly, opening the opportunity for purpose-built shafts.”

What’s left in the wake of South Africa’s abandoned gold mines – Green Biz
Mark Olalde
Friday, January 15, 2016 – 12:45am
The name is derived from “happy prospect” in Afrikaans, and once upon a time, life and the gold haul were both good at the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine, 50 miles west of Johannesburg.

But two years after the mine’s owners abandoned it because it was unprofitable, sewage runs in the streets of the old mining village, tailings impoundments cover nearby towns in dust and illegal miners rule the abandoned shafts.

“I’m just going to take one or two potshots at them to keep them at a distance,” said Louis Nel, head of security at the now-abandoned Blyvooruitzicht.

He raises his shotgun and shatters the afternoon calm with several blasts. A few zama zamas — illegal miners whose title means “We try! We try!” in Zulu — run for cover.

Blyvooruitzicht is but one of thousands of abandoned mines scattered across South Africa, many from the gold industry. With recently shuttered mines adding to the massive impact of those left derelict years ago, the country faces a growing environmental, health and social crisis created by a withering gold industry and inadequate oversight.

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources, or DMR, holds a list of 6,000 “derelict and ownerless” mines, which became the government’s problem over the years when the former owners disappeared. While the DMR slowly rehabilitates those mines — at a rate of about 10 per year — companies continue to walk away from operations such as Blyvooruitzicht, and both mining companies and the government are slow to accept responsibility.

In the meantime, millions of South Africans live around waste facilities and many deal with respiratory, skin and other health effects that they blame on the mine waste piled in and around their communities.

In 2013, mining companies produced 562,000 times as much waste as gold, according to the South African Chamber of Mines. A decade before, that same ratio was less than half as large, at 212,000-to-1.

Mining operations are generating increased waste because South Africa’s gold is running out, and the remaining resource only can be found several miles below ground. This produces more waste and leads to higher production costs, more mining debris and increased acid mine drainage. South African companies dig up waste weighing more than 15 million pounds — heavier than 38 Boeing 747s — in order to process one standard gold bar’s worth of final product.

Around Johannesburg, some 270 tailings piles, most of them unlined, contain that waste, which weighs in at an estimated 6 billion metric tons. According to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg and Pretoria, toxic and radioactive mine residue areas cover 124 square miles.

“You don’t want big sinkholes, you don’t want underground fires burning forever, you don’t want kids falling down shafts,” said Caroline Digby, director of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Center for Sustainability in Mining and Industry. “All these things happen all the time because sites are not properly closed.”

In the Johannesburg area, with 10 million residents, at least 15 percent of the population lives in informal settlements, with many placed by the former apartheid government near or even on top of these dumps. At Blyvooruitzicht, about 11,000 people live around the abandoned mine, many of them unemployed miners unable to afford housing elsewhere.

Throughout its lifetime, the mine generated about 2.5 million pounds of gold, silver, uranium and other minerals, but now it is a volatile wasteland. Just outside the main mining village, unremediated tailings piles stretch like monstrous sandy beaches. Children are known to swim in puddles of water on the dumps. Residents live in constant fear of electricity and water shutoffs, and illegal miners frequently engage mine security in gun battles.

Sikeme Lekhooana, chairman of the Blyvoor Community Committee, said his 5-year-old son knows the sound of gunfire all too well. “My little boy will tell you, ‘Papa, that is a gunshot outside,’” he said.

Blyvooruitzicht operated from 1937 until 2013, when a slumping market and labor disputes forced it into liquidation 14 years ahead of schedule. Two companies — DRDGOLD and Village Main Reef — worked the mine toward the end of its life. But each company has walked away, claiming the other is the owner and therefore responsible for the cleanup.

Lekhooana worked at the mine for 32 years before being laid off when the operation was liquidated. More than 1,000 employees from the mine face the same situation, unable to find work in a shrinking industry.

As of 2007, the owners of Blyvooruitzicht had set aside a fund of around $1,000 to clean up the large amounts of mine waste. That fund has since been increased to around $3 million, but DRDGOLD said the true cost to rehabilitate would be at least three times that.

Said Nikisi Lesufi, senior executive for health and environment for the Chamber of Mines, “There’s always a shortfall.”

Even when mines are operational, the DMR and other agencies do not properly address environmental consequences. Between November 2007 and February 2008, for example, thousands of metric tons of tailings pond material spilled from Blyvooruitzicht on four occasions, some of the waste washing into a nearby residential area.

These spills occurred with relative frequency, and while mine reports from the time noted crews being sent to clean roads and calls being made to the proper authorities, they do not mention any other measures taken to protect the community.

One major environmental and health concern is the vast production of acid mine drainage, especially around Johannesburg, which the water department estimates at up to 92 million gallons per day. Acid mine drainage mobilizes heavy metals in the environment, creates sinkholes and pollutes water supplies.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research estimated that as early as 2000, up to 20 percent of the stream flow (PDF) around Johannesburg came from groundwater that was polluted, in part, by mines. Yet as of last year, at least 39 mining companies were operating without a water license, the South African Human Rights Commission found.

And the air is no cleaner. The district just west of the city recorded 42.24 metric tons of tailings-piles dust (PDF) blowing into the air daily, some of it taken up by livestock and food crops.

Residents say that these piles cause health problems ranging from rashes to asthma to cancer. The list goes on, but a lack of local epidemiological studies has made it nearly impossible for communities near mine dumps to pursue litigation against mining companies.

Tudor Shaft is one such community, an informal settlement sitting atop a partially removed tailings facility just west of Johannesburg. An estimated 1,800 people live in shacks built on the radioactive and toxic soil. An orange hill of mine residue marks the center of the community, and sludge washes through the settlement when it rains.

Heavy metals and other pollutants in mine waste pose the most immediate threat to human health, but experts say consistent exposure to large amounts of low-level radiation might have long-term effects, too.

“When you’re already in a stress-burdened community that’s exposed to a variety of environmental pollutants, even low radiation levels that might not be toxic to very healthy individuals might have a significant impact on people,” said André Swart, executive dean of the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

Some Tudor Shaft residents mix the soil with lotion and apply it to their faces as a skin cream. Some are baptized in polluted streams, and others — often pregnant women — follow a traditional practice in which they eat cakes made from the toxic dirt.

“You can either inhale [pollutants], ingest it, or absorb it through the skin, so they’re actually exposing themselves to all three of those root-ways of the pollution,” said Swart. “As this accumulates, the exposure level gets higher and higher and there can be real health issues.”

Follow the link above to read the full article………..


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Safety In The Laboratory

Here are some great tips to remember concerning safety in the laboratory

by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.
Updated December 15, 2017
ThoughtCo – click the link for the full article.

“The science lab is an inherently dangerous place, with fire hazards, dangerous chemicals, and risky procedures. No one wants to have an accident in the lab, so you need to follow lab safety rules.

1. The Most Important Lab Safety Rule
Follow the instructions! Whether it’s listening to your instructor or lab supervisor or following a procedure in a book, it’s critical to listen, pay attention, and be familiar with all the steps, from start to finish, before you begin. If you are unclear about any point or have questions, get them answered before starting, even if it’s a question about a step later on in the protocol. Know how to use all of the lab equipment before you begin.

Why is this the most important rule? If you don’t follow it:

You endanger yourself and others in the lab.
You could easily ruin your experiment.
You put the lab at risk of an accident, which could damage equipment as well as harm people.
You could get suspended (student) or fired (researcher).
Now that you know the most important rule, let’s continue to other lab safety rules…
2. Know the Location of Safety Equipment
In the event something goes wrong, it’s important to know the location of the safety equipment and how to use it. It’s a good idea to periodically check equipment to make sure it is in working order. For example, does water actually come out of the safety shower? Does the water in the eye wash look clean?

Not sure where safety equipment is located? Review lab safety signs and look for them before starting an experiment.
3. Safety Rule – Dress for the Lab
Dress for the lab. This is a safety rule because your clothing is one of your best forms of protection against an accident. For any science lab, wear covered shoes, long pants, and keep your hair up so it can’t fall into your experiment or a flame.

Make sure you wear protective gear, as needed. Basics include a lab coat and safety goggles. You may also need gloves, hearing protection, and other items, depending on the nature of the experiment.

4. Don’t Eat or Drink in the Laboratory
Save your snacking for the office, not the lab. Don’t eat or drink in the science laboratory. Don’t store your food or beverages in the same refrigerator that contains experiments, chemicals, or cultures.

There is too much risk of contaminating your food. You could touch it with a hand that is coated with chemicals or pathogens or set it down on a lab bench that has residue from past experiments.
Having drinks in the lab risks your experiment, too. You could spill a drink on your research or lab notebook.
Eating and drinking in the lab is a form of distraction. If you are eating, you aren’t concentrating on your work. It’s unsafe.
If you’re used to drinking liquids in the lab, you might accidentally reach for and drink the wrong liquid. This is especially true if you did not label your glassware or used lab glassware as dishes (2 other safety mistakes).
5. Don’t Taste or Sniff Chemicals
Not only should you not bring in food or drinks, but you shouldn’t taste or smell chemicals or biological cultures already in the lab. The best way to know what’s in a container is to label it, so get in the habit of making a label for glassware before adding the chemical.

Tasting or smelling some chemicals can be dangerous or even deadly. Don’t do it!

Lab safety rules for students – United Federation of Teachers

Report all accidents, injuries, and breakage of glass or equipment to instructor immediately.

Keep pathways clear by placing extra items (books, bags, etc.) on the shelves or under the work tables. If under the tables, make sure that these items can not be stepped on.

Long hair (chin-length or longer) must be tied back to avoid catching fire.

Wear sensible clothing including footwear. Loose clothing should be secured so they do not get caught in a flame or chemicals.

Work quietly — know what you are doing by reading the assigned experiment before you start to work. Pay close attention to any cautions described in the laboratory exercises

Do not taste or smell chemicals.

Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes when heating substances, dissecting, etc.

Do not attempt to change the position of glass tubing in a stopper.

Never point a test tube being heated at another student or yourself. Never look into a test tube while you are heating it.

Unauthorized experiments or procedures must not be attempted.

Keep solids out of the sink.

Leave your work station clean and in good order before leaving the laboratory.

Do not lean, hang over or sit on the laboratory tables.

Do not leave your assigned laboratory station without permission of the teacher.

Learn the location of the fire extinguisher, eye wash station, first aid kit and safety shower.

Fooling around or “horse play” in the laboratory is absolutely forbidden. Students found in violation of this safety rule will be barred from participating in future labs and could result in suspension.

Anyone wearing acrylic nails will not be allowed to work with matches, lighted splints, bunsen burners, etc.

Do not lift any solutions, glassware or other types of apparatus above eye level.

Follow all instructions given by your teacher.

Learn how to transport all materials and equipment safely.

No eating or drinking in the lab at any time!


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Dust hazards in mining

Mining, maintenance or processing activities can result in the release of dust particles into the air. Exposure to dust in mining and quarrying continues to be a major risk to the health of workers.

Breathing in dust, such as coal dust, silica dust and other finely powdered materials, can damage the lungs and airways. The risk to health varies depending on the size and nature of the dust particles.

Exposure to dust can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract, and prolonged exposure can lead to a range of serious lung diseases including silicosis, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

This guide provides details on managing dust hazards in Queensland mines and quarries, including information about legislative requirements, health impacts, measurement and control. You should consult an occupational health and safety professional for specific advice about controlling hazards in your workplace.

Sources of dust and contributing factors
Dust particles are generated and can become airborne during many of the extraction and processing activities associated with producing and processing rock and mineral products.

These activities include:

loading and tipping
crushing, conveying and screening
cutting and sawing
cleaning and maintaining fixed and mobile plant.
Mine workers can be exposed to dust particles that differ in chemical composition, such as:

dust containing crystalline silica
coal dust
dust containing metals such as lead, cadmium and arsenic
The geology of the rock and mining activities to extract and process the rock will determine the type and quantity of dust particles generated.

Health and safety effects of dust
Breathing in dust can result in a range of occupational illnesses and diseases depending on:

size of dust particles
composition of the dust particle and its effect on the body
concentration of dust particles in the breathing zone of the worker
how often and how long a person breathes in the dust.
Most dust clouds contain particles of widely varying sizes. Hazardous dust is not always visible.

The larger particles that can be breathed in are called inhalable or inspirable dust particles. Inhalable dust particles are visible to the naked eye and are deposited in the nose, throat and upper respiratory tract. Respirable dust contains dust particles so small they are invisible to the naked eye and reach deep into the lungs.

Different types of dust particles have different health effects. For example, respirable crystalline silica dust causes scarring of the lungs, and inhalable lead dust can damage the central nervous system. Many occupational diseases are the result of many years of exposure to dust and it may take years or decades before the disease becomes noticeable.
The above article was sourced from Business Queensland Government 

Mining health safety – 7 common risks to protect yourself against

The mining industry has a reputation for being a risky business, with health risks that are varied and often quite serious, and it is important for miners to protect themselves accordingly.

Nevertheless, mining doesn’t have to be unsafe. With the introduction of strict safety legislation and protocol, as well as advances in safety equipment, the industry has seen its fatality rate drop over time. Although the goal of zero harm has not yet been achieved, it remains the standard that mining companies continue to strive towards.

“Understanding and being aware of your environment is the first step to preventing illness or injury in the workplace,” reveals mining medicine researcher Megan Clark, who outlines the following 7 common health risks to watch out for in the mining industry.

1. Coal dust
Dust inhalation or coal dust is one of the most common concerns for miners. “The ongoing inhalation of coal dust can cause what is colloquially known as ‘miner’s lung’ or ‘black lung’. Miner’s lung is a form of the occupational lung disease group pneumoconiosis. It varies in severity, but symptoms include shortness of breath and scarring of lung tissue, which can cause ongoing respiratory issues,” says Clark.

Even though measures to prevent black lung have been legally enforced for many years now, new cases still occur among coal miners. Mining companies need to develop a dust control plan, and supervisors should ensure that dust control systems are working properly for every production shift. Mine workers should be trained on the hazards of over-exposure to coal mine dust. Respiratory protection should be used when dust control protection is being installed, maintained or repaired. Medical screening and surveillance is also essential.

2. Noise
Mines are noisy places, with the constant of drilling and heavy machinery, and the potential for hearing damage is quite serious. “It can be easy for you to mentally get used to loud noises, but that doesn’t mean that damage isn’t still being done. Many people don’t notice the damage to their hearing until long after they were first exposed to the noisy environment, as most damage occurs very slowly. Over-exposure to excessive noise can result in tinnitus (ringing in the ears), sleep disturbances, concentration problems and even permanent hearing loss,” Clark explains.

To protect workers against noise, mining companies should evaluate working conditions and noise exposure through risk assessments. Avoiding and reducing exposure can be achieved by appling engineering controls at the noise source or along the noise path to reduce exposures, such as vibration dampeners or absorptive panels. Regular maintenance of machines is also essential to reducing noise. Employer must ensure proper use of personal hearing protection amongst noise-exposed employees, while providing necessary health and safety training and maintaining up-to-date health surveillance records.

3. Whole body vibration
Whole body vibration (WBV) is a slow forming physical hazard that occurs in mining workers and other occupations that work with heavy machinery. “In the mining environment, WBV can be caused either by spending a lot of time sitting on machinery, which is most of the time in mining extraction, or by standing, such as working on jumbo operators. Some forms of vibration are ok, but they become dangerous when they involve uneven surfaces, vehicle activity such as ripping versus pushing material in a bulldozer, and engine vibrations. Symptoms of WBV include musculoskeletal disorders, reproductive damage in females, vision impairment, digestive problems and cardiovascular changes,” Clark outlines.

Again, reducing exposure also reduces the health risks and should be the first step that mining companies take. This might include filling in potholes on unmade roads, minimising the transport of goods or materials, or replacing manned with unmanned machines such as remotely controlled conveyors. Where risks cannot be avoided, supervisors should reduce the time for which the employee uses the machine each day. Instruction and training are critical, and symptoms of back pain in employees should be closely monitored.

4. UV Exposure
For open-pit miners, understanding the risk of over-exposure to UV (ultraviolet) radiation in sunlight is essential. “Over exposure of ultraviolet rays can put you at risk of skin cancer, of which Australia has the highest rate in the world. Not only can UV rays cause melanomas to form, but they can cause serious damage to your eyes if you are not wearing protective eye wear. In the short-term, overexposure to the sun can cause dehydration, headaches and nausea. Mine workers often spend whole days out in the baking hot sun, so are naturally at a very high risk of developing cancer and eye problems if they are not adequately protected,” Clark explains.

Employers should conduct a risk assessment on outdoor work scheduled to assist in developing appropriate sun protection measures. The most effective way of reducing UV exposure is to use a combination of protection methods, including re-organising work to avoid the UV peak of the day, providing natural or artificial shade, providing appropriate protective clothing, and applying sunscreen. It is also important that employers train employees to raise awareness of the risks associated with exposure to UV and the sun protection measures required. Employers can provide skin cancer checks as part of regular workplace medical examinations and in pre-employment medical checks.

5. Musculoskeletal disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) refer to any problems affecting your bones, muscles, blood vessels and nerves. “Mine workers are exposed to a variety of potential health risks that fall under this broad category. While musculoskeletal damage can occur due to a trip, fall or heavy lift, the more serious ones occur slowly over time. This could be due to ongoing heavy lifting or repetitive strains,” says Clark.

Preventing MSDs needs to be a key part of every workplace health and safety program. In safe and healthy workplaces, employers should identify and assess job-related MSD hazards and put in place controls to reduce workers’ exposure to MSD hazards. Furthermore, workers should be advised and trained about MSD hazards in their job and workplace and should be encouraged to participate in health and safety programs through early reporting of MSD symptoms or concerns to their supervisors. Employers should follow up to ensure preventative measures are working.

6. Thermal stress
A common health risk that miners face is thermal – or heat – stress. “Mining environments are often very hot and humid, particularly those in outback Australia, which over time can cause thermal stress in workers. Overexposure to heat and humidity can cause the body to become fatigued and distressed. This can result in heat stroke or more serious ongoing health problems,” Clark reveals.

Where there is a possibility of heat stress occurring, companies need to carry out a risk assessment that considers the work rate, working climate and worker clothing and respiratory protective equipment. Where possible, control the temperature using engineering solutions, provide mechanical aids where possible to reduce the work rate, and regulate the length of exposure to hot environments. Furthermore, personal protective equipment should be provided, such as specialised protective clothing that incorporates personal cooling systems or breathable fabrics. Furthermore, companies should provide training for workers, especially new and young employees, and monitor the health of workers at risk.

7. Chemical hazards
Mine workers are often exposed to harmful chemicals. “As an example, the most common group of chemicals that cause concern in a coal mining environment are polymeric chemicals. Regardless of the chemicals you work in close proximity to, appropriate safety wear and precautions need to be taken to minimise your body’s exposure to them. Risks include chemical burns, respiratory problems and poisoning,” Clark outlines.

Each chemical has a unique set of hazards and needs to be handled properly to ensure worker safety, so employers need to conduct risk assessments to establish best practices. A standard operating procedure (SOP) that addresses the use of correct personal protective equipment, safe handling, safe use, and proper disposal should be established. Ventilation is also an important factor in minimizing exposure, as well as general housekeeping and cleanliness. Thorough training and drills should be conducted regarding the company’s spill response plans and chemical hygiene plans.

Thanks to the Mining Review for the above article.


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

How To Use a Fire Extinguisher

Here is a useful little video on how to use a fire extinguisher – something we should all know!

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.


Uncertainty of dustfall monitoring results

Single Bucket DustWatch unit

Let’s continue to read some of this online early research article on the “Uncertainty of dustfall monitoring results” by Martin A van Nierop, Elanie van Staden, Jared Lodder and Stuart J Piketh

To read the full article and to see any diagrams referred to below, follow this link – Clean Air Journal

To read the start of this research paper, follow this link – Fugitive Dust

Statistical analysis
The variability of each bucket at each site was calculated to determine the difference in the dust collected for each bucket by calculating the standard deviation for each sampler. This gave an indication of precision. Box plots for all of the sites for every month show the distribution of the data. A margin of error for each site was calculated using the following equation:

Where; E = margin of error
t = critical value for confidence level c (at 90%)
σ = standard deviation
n = amount of samples

To calculate the uncertainty of the results, the mean of each site was determined. The upper and lower limits (plus/minus 10% from the mean) was used to determine what percentage of samples were outside this band.

Thereafter, the relative standard deviation (%RSD) was calculated to compare the precision of the absolute deposition values between sites.
Some of the results are presented in this section, the balance can be found in appendix A to C.
The standard deviation of 144 samples (12 sites monitored for 12 months) was calculated (Figure 2). 91% of the data points had a standard deviation below 400 mg/m2 /day, 81 % of the data points had a standard deviation below 300 mg/m2 /day, and 38% had standard deviations below 100 mg/m2 /day, this
gives an indication of the range of deviation for the entire data set.

The analysis of variance for the results is presented using box plots (Figures 3 and 4). These plots (representing two of the 12 months sampled) are a visual representation of the spread of
the data collected for eash site. The smaller the box plot, the lower the variance, and in this case the uncertainty.

Outliers are those data points that are statistically uncertain.

A second method of measuring the uncertainty was to plot the 90% confidence interval (Figures 5 and 6) and to determine the percentage of data points that fell outside of this interval. The majority of data points (51%) at all site fell outside of the 90% confidence level.
The third method of measuring the uncertainty was to provide a band of plus/minus 10% from the mean of the four data points and determine the number of samples lying outside of the band. This is represented graphically for sites 4 and 11 (Figures 7 and 8). 28% of the 288 results were outside the band.

Finally, the relative standard deviation is calculated to compare the precision of the absolute deposition values between sites. A high RSD value indicates a high uncertainty. The average RSD for all sites and for all months was calculated at 11.69%. Most of the sites have a low percentage RSD indicating a small spread between the points (Table 1). There are some points within the dataset that have a higher variability.
The cell shading in Table 1
represent the following:
• No colour: RSD below 15%
• Light red: RSD between 15 and 20%
• Red: RSD above 20%
• Dark Red: RSD above 40%
Standard deviation is used to show how far the data spreads from the mean. The higher the standard deviation the more spread out the data is. A low uncertainty would be represented by a standard deviation of less than ±5% of the mean. The buckets at each site were exposed to the same environments; therefore, it is expected that they should collect the same amount of dust.
The box plots are a visual way of representing the data from the sample. It shows the minimum, maximum, median, interquartile ranges and outliers. They are only able to show the outlier with
the greatest or the smallest value. This is due to the small data groups (populations of 4). Therefore, when the area of the box is minimal, it indicated a closely spaced dataset, which in turn means precise data, i.e. lower uncertainty. Whereas a large area within the box represents spread data with large ranges between
the results, i.e. greater uncertainty. It should be considered that the amount of dust per site would vary; therefore, only the size of the box should be taken into consideration and not its position on the y-axis of the graph.

The area in which the test was conducted has a dust standard of 1,200 mg/m2 /day (NEMA: AQA, 2013). The margin of error was calculated to see if it is possible for the value of the reading to shift around this standard. That is, if the weight was just below or above the standard, would it be possible for the actual dust deposition to be above or below the standard, respectively. This confidence interval (Figures 5 and 6) indicates that for some of the samples with readings close to the standard it is possible for the result to provide a false exceedence or false conformance to the Standard.

The ASTM D1739–98 reported a standard deviation of 18% in the recovery measurements of water insoluble dustfall from Project Threshold (ASTM D1739–98. 1998), and that there was no link found between dustfall rate and reproducibility or repeatability. Repeatability and reproducibility was not conducted in this current study; however, it is aligned with the Project Threshold study. No link between the dustfall rate and repeatability (standard deviation) was found. The RSD was used to obtain an uncertainty for the entire process whereas Project Threshold reported on the laboratory component of dustfall monitoring only. The current study identifies environmental conditions that have a greater contribution to the calculated uncertainty of the method.


The dustfall rate for each group of four samplers per site was expected to have a low variability given that they were exposed to the same conditions. However, variation in the dustfall rate indicates some level of uncertainty. The results of this study show that there is uncertainty in the results from the dustfall samplers. Although some uncertainty could be attributed to sample handling, the majority is considered to be from environmental factors. The proximity of the four buckets on each stand could affect the flow pattern around these buckets and potentially affect the deposition into the bucket. For this study it was assumed that the effect each bucket has on the others is equal. Future work for this study will correlate the highest mass of the four buckets with the dominant wind direction.


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Dust Problems in Sun Valley Cape Town

Call for a better plan to manage dust fall

The Sun Valley Area is undergoing significant construction activity and road works.

Dust management plans to control the dust are important for all interested parties.

The lack of water is a challenge and the use of Chryso Eco Dust 200D can decrease the amount of water required to control the dust in an area.

Ligno Sulphate Information Chryso Eco Dust 200D

DustWatch can provide quotations for this product if required and also provide advice on optimized application for different area requirements.  Gravel Roads, Haul Roads, Unpaved open areas, Stockpiles and Berms.  On site advice is available for site specific requirements and optimization.

The application spreadsheet is available here if required.

Eco Dust 200D application

Eco Dust 200D application

Please contact DustWatch for more information.


Hope you enjoyed the read!  Have a great day.

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

United States Environmental Protection Agency

On a recent visit to the States, Chris Loans came across this beautiful building…………..

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Ageing Power Stations Wasting Water

The value of water

Ageing power stations are wasting vast amounts of water

The City of Johannesburg has suddenly become terribly concerned about water security, leading it to implement level 2 water restrictions.

Households must, the city says, immediately reduce water use by at least 15%. This means that households may not use hosepipes to wash cars or clean pavements, or use municipal water to fill swimming pools.

In addition, heavy-consuming households can expect a 10% to 30% increase in their water bills each month.

Little attention has been given to industry, agriculture or power generation.

These new rules have been set against a context where one small environmental justice organisation, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, has been demanding answers to the city’s irresponsible water use for months.

In fact, Earthlife has been demanding answers from the city to no avail, particularly on the amount of water used and wasted by the coal-fired Kelvin Power Station in Kempton Park, eastern Johannesburg.

Not only do ageing coal-fired power stations – such as Kelvin, which is one of the oldest in the country – use 45 million litres of water per hour, they are also the primary reason behind climate change.

Southern Africa is in the grips of a structural drought leading to agricultural loss, food price hikes, immigration, increased disease and increased unemployment.

It is a no-brainer then that the City of Johannesburg should examine the real culprit of water loss first: coal-fired power stations such as Kelvin.

Yet, the water use at Kelvin remains a mystery, even to the city itself. It appears that no one can, or is willing to, give Earthlife any answers.

In addition, Kelvin has a 20-year preferential price and water supply agreement with the city, which will last until 2021.

Earthlife has been campaigning for years for the City of Johannesburg to close the filthy Kelvin Power Station down for good, and to replace it with clean and sustainable renewable energy.

Recently, the environmental justice organisation, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, wrote to the City of Johannesburg demanding to know the following:

. Who is the current owner of the Kelvin Power Station?

. At what price does Kelvin sell electricity to City Power?

. What percentage of City Power’s electricity does Kelvin provide?

. What will the position be once the agreement between City Power and Kelvin terminates in 2021?

. At what price does Johannesburg Water sell water to Kelvin Power Station?

. How much water does Johannesburg Water supply to Kelvin?

. By how much does the City of Johannesburg subsidise Kelvin Power Station?

The City refused to answer the questions posed and insisted that the organisation make use of requests in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

The act requests were made and the deadline for the city to respond was August 29. The city has subsequently requested more time to provide the information.

A lot of work needs to be done to educate South African people, and the people of Gauteng, on the true meaning of environmentalism.

South Africa is fast on track to becoming one of the most polluted countries in the world, and if citizens don’t look outside their own back yards first to protect their constitutional rights to live in an environment that is clean and not detrimental to their health, we are doomed.

Source – Fin24

The world needs to rethink the value of water

The value of water

Research led by Oxford University highlights the accelerating pressure on measuring, monitoring and managing water locally and globally. A new four-part framework is proposed to value water for sustainable development to guide better policy and practice.

The value of water for people, the environment, industry, agriculture and cultures has been long-recognised, not least because achieving safely-managed drinking water is essential for human life. The scale of the investment for universal and safely-managed drinking water and sanitation is vast, with estimates around $114B USD per year, for capital costs alone.

But there is an increasing need to re-think the value of water for a number of reasons:

  1. Water is not just about sustaining life, it plays a vital role in sustainable development. Water’s value is evident in all of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, from poverty alleviation and ending hunger, where the connection is long recognised – to sustainable cities and peace and justice, where the complex impacts of water are only now being fully appreciated.
  2. Water security is a growing global concern. The negative impacts of water shortages, flooding and pollution have placed water related risks among the top 5 global threats by the World Economic Forum for several years running. In 2015, Oxford-led research on water security quantified expected losses from water shortages, inadequate water supply and sanitation and flooding at approximately $500B USD annually. Last month the World Bank demonstrated the consequences of water scarcity and shocks: the cost of a drought in cities is four times greater than a flood, and a single drought in rural Africa can ignite a chain of deprivation and poverty across generations.

Recognising these trends, there is an urgent and global opportunity to re-think the value of water, with the UN/World Bank High Level Panel on Water launching a new initiative on Valuing Water earlier this year. The growing consensus is that valuing water goes beyond monetary value or price. In order to better direct future policies and investment we need to see valuing water as a governance challenge.

An international team led by Oxford University and partners across the world has published a new paper in Science in which they chart a new framework to value water for the Sustainable Development Goals. Putting a monetary value on water and capturing the cultural benefits of water are only one step. They suggest that valuing and managing water requires parallel and coordinated action across four priorities: measurement, valuation, trade-offs and capable institutions for allocating and financing water.

Lead author Dustin Garrick, University of Oxford, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment:”Our paper responds to a global call to action: the cascading negative impacts of scarcity, shocks and inadequate water services underscore the need to value water better. There may not be any silver bullets, but there are clear steps to take. We argue that valuing water is fundamentally about navigating trade-offs. The objective of our research is to show why we need to rethink the value of water, and how to go about it, by leveraging technology, science and incentives to punch through stubborn governance barriers. Valuing water requires that we value institutions.”

Co-author Richard Damania, Global Lead Economist, World Bank Water Practice:”We show that water underpins development, and that we must manage it sustainably. Multiple policies will be needed for multiple goals. Current water management policies are outdated and unsuited to addressing the water related challenges of the 21st century. Without policies to allocate finite supplies of water more efficiently, control the burgeoning demand for water and reduce wastage, water stress will intensify where water is already scarce and spread to regions of the world – with impacts on economic growth and the development of water-stressed nations.”

Co-Author Erin O’ Donnell, University of Melbourne:”2017 is a watershed moment for the status of rivers. Four rivers have been granted the rights and powers of legal persons, in a series of groundbreaking legal rulings that resonated across the world. This unprecedented recognition of the cultural and environmental value of rivers in law compels us to re-examine the role of rivers in society and sustainable development, and rethink our paradigms for valuing water.”

Read more at:

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Asthma and Pollution

Asthma and pollution

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Asthma

Anyone who has breathing difficulties knows just how much it can seriously affect quality of life. Unfortunately, as pollution levels rise, so, too, does the rate of asthma. Recent data from the Center for Disease Control reveals hard truths. In the U.S., for example, 1 in 12 adults have asthma and 9 die from it every day.  Of course, pollution’s not the only culprit. Asthma has many causes, after all, and while there may not be a cure, the disease is certainly manageable.

Asthma is a challenging issue to address, because there are a number of underlying factors that contribute to the disease. As you may know, addressing the underlying cause is the best way to approach any type of health condition. In order to understand the full spectrum of factors associated with asthma, here’s 5 things you should keep in mind.

1. Energy Efficiency is Partly to Blame

Despite more and more homes being made energy efficient, asthma rates continue to rise. A study out of the UK suggests these efficient homes ventilate less, leading to a damper environment conducive for mold.  Not only that, poor ventilation could lead to exposure to other asthma-triggering contaminants, and high humidity could invite household dust mites and other nasties.

2. A Little Dirt Can Be a Good Thing

Sometimes we can be a little too clean, and that could be hurting our children. Many studies suggest over protecting a child from germs can lead to a greater risk for developing asthma, allergies, and other autoimmune diseases during adulthood. For example, hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes are two things we tend to overuse on our kids (and ourselves). Often, plain old soap and water is the best way to go. The latest study even suggests exposing newborns to certain bacteria during the first two weeks of life can help protect them against asthma.

3. Giving Antibiotics to Infants Can Make Them More Prone to Asthma

While avoiding antibacterial products could be beneficial to your child’s health, it might pay to avoid heavy antibiotic use. The premise is the same here: overuse leads to bacterial resistance, and this, in turn, could increase a child’s risk for asthma. According to a large study, infants who take antibiotics are twice as likely than their counterparts to develop wheezing.

4. Convenient, Spray-On Sunscreen Can Cause an Attack

While those spray-on sunscreens may be super convenient, the FDA is currently studying whether or not these aerosols are dangerous to kids who have breathing difficulties. The worry is that spraying these on or near the faces of these kids could trigger attacks. In the meantime, Consumer Reports reminds us to look into other options.  With UV radiation always a concern, maybe this could be a great time to look into a new, non-aerosol sunscreen.

5. Where Asthma Is, Allergies Are Found

An astonishing 90 percent of US kids with asthma also have allergies, suggesting a link between the two. In the case of some of these kids, especially those with poorly controlled or undiagnosed asthma, these allergies can cause reactions that are tough to handle. Take the case of the US toddler who went into anaphylactic shock after eating an orange. Oddly enough, she had orange juice before without a problem, but she also turned out to have undiagnosed asthma. In the toddler’s case, and others like hers, one thought is that it might not be the fruit causing the allergic reaction, but the pesticides on the fruit.  Asthma is a very real concern worldwide, but many people assume it’s only a problem in the city; however, recent reports suggest it’s much more widespread. The disease has slowly moved into rural communities and suburbs, and it’s not going away.

8 Crazy Facts About Air Pollution

Air pollution has many sources — cigarette smoke, automobiles, and industrial chemicals are only a few things that pollute the air we breathe. Let’s look at 8 crazy facts about air pollution you probably haven’t heard about.

1. BPA is Polluting the Air

It’s not just “standard” pollutants that are an issue. BPA (Bisphenol-A) is also invading our air and it’s not going away.  In 2013, for example, industrial plants in Deer Park, Texas, emitted over 4,100 pounds of the endocrine disruptor.  As more and more chemical companies use BPA to make plastic stronger, the toxin is constantly released into the environment. Some think the lungs and skin also absorb BPA, which is a serious issue because the body does not metabolize the compound.

2. Air Pollution is a Deadly Health Crisis in the UK

The Environmental Audit Committee of UK’s Parliament recently argued that air pollution brings almost the same death toll as smoking. The committee even wants to phase out diesel cars because they’re the biggest part of the problem. Just how much pollution are we talking about? Around 46% of carbon monoxide, 42% nitrogen oxides, and 26% particulate matter all comes courtesy of these engines.  As pollution becomes an extreme health crisis in the UK, it makes you wonder if it’s reached that level in America. Have we just not acknowledged it?

3. The Air in Your Own Home is Likely the Worst

It’s not only the air outside; household air is often terrible. The World Health Organization even weighed in and released a report that highlighted the dangers of burning fuels like coal or kerosene.While this is a bigger issue in low- and middle-income countries, gas or kerosene space heaters–something many Americans use–can also be part of the problem.  While airtight spaces only contribute to the problem, recent evidence suggests they not only affect your physical health, but also your mental state.  Workers in windowless rooms had poorer sleep habits and lower overall qualities of life than their counterparts.

4. Air Pollution Makes You Look Old

Procter & Gamble recently released a report that polluted air can contain over 200 chemicals that age the skin. This becomes a big issue in larger cities with more pollutants; in fact, in a study of over 200 urban and rural women aged 30 to 45, pollution from city life added as much as 10 percent to perceived aging.

5. Air Pollution is Linked to Attention Problems

As more and more children are diagnosed with attention disorders, air pollution could be a factor. One study suggests that it is the mother’s exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—emitted by burning fossil fuels—that is the main issue; however, new evidence takes that idea even further. A new study looks at how unborn children exposed to high levels of pollutants in car exhaust are five times more likely to develop an attention disorder by age 9.  Air pollution can leave its mark; kids with ADHD, for example, have a higher risk for poor academic performance, risky behaviors, and there’s even the possibility of decreased earnings in adulthood. There is even some evidence linking indoor air pollution with autism.

6. The Air at the Gym is Horrible

It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the gym has some pretty bad air quality. Could that smell, which you might’ve always associated with smelly gym socks, actually be an indicator of air quality? A research team in Portugal set out to answer that question by measuring the air quality of 11 gyms and found high levels of airborne dust, formaldehyde, and carbon dioxide.

7. Air Pollution is Affecting the Sistine Chapel

Nearly 6 million people visit the Sistine chapel every year and in 2010, it was discovered that increased levels of carbon dioxide from the breath of visitors was causing the frescoes to whiten.  A build up of powder made up of calcium carbonate and calcium bicarbonate was removed before any lasting damage could be done, but this byproduct sort of makes you think twice about increased levels of carbon dioxide.

8. Burning Money Causes Air Pollution

It’s no surprise that burning trash is a massive source of air pollution; in fact, a study estimates that more than 40 percent of the world’s garbage is burned, releasing carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, mercury, particulate matter, and other toxins into the air. Who would have guessed, though, that burning money also contributes to this pollution? A study in Taiwan found that ritual burning of paper money (at temples and festivals) added nearly double the number of toxins to the air.

One Final Thought

As you might’ve already guessed, pollution is a huge problem. At times, it might feel like too big for you to control, but trust me, nothing you do to help is too small. Always invest in an air filter for your home, and if possible for your place of business.

Source – Global Healing Centre

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

How to Have a Healthy Home

According to experts, air pollution is the main cause of virtually all respiratory problems – and the pollution could be higher inside your home than outdoors.

Air pollution can cause a myriad of health problems, the least serious of which include headaches, blurred vision, sore throat, dizziness and difficulty in breathing.

And since many people now spend much of their lives indoors, it’s vital that you do all you can to minimise indoor pollution because contaminants can remain for extended periods of time.

Research shows that complete air exchange in your house will only happen around once every six hours and new figures from experts in the USA suggest that pollutants in the home can be anywhere from two to five times higher than those you face outside!

In extreme cases (such as homes which have a smoker, pets and a cupboard full of regularly–used products such as cleaning sprays and beauty products), the air pollution could even be up to 100 times higher than outdoors.

Indoor Pollutants

There are a number of obvious culprits such as air fresheners, cleaning products, animals, dust and CFC sprays and of course, one major hazard is cigarette smoke (and second-hand smoke to which children are particularly vulnerable.)

Smoke can trigger asthma and a range of other respiratory problems but lesser known forms of pollution include black mould – the type that you often see on the ceiling or walls of a poorly heated or ventilated room.

Then there’s Radon, a radioactive gas formed in the soil which can find its way inside homes where walls and floors are in direct contact with the ground but are not adequately sealed.

Radon is an invisible, odourless gas – but its effects can be serious. In fact, Radon is thought to be the second highest cause of lung cancer in Britain (after cigarette smoke.)

Levels of Radon vary throughout the UK – but there are isolated pockets of heavy pollution with some areas having levels almost 30 times those of elsewhere.

Radon affected areas have been identified in parts of Cornwall, Derbyshire, Scotland, Northampton, Somerset and Northern Ireland and the government has now produced online maps showing identification of high radon areas.

People living in homes with fuel burning appliances can also be at risk of pollution from nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide where the appliances do not have sufficient vents.

The health effects include throat irritation, shortness of breath and in the case of severe carbon monoxide poisoning, weakness, nausea and even death.

Everyday Pollutants

VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are found in most homes in paints, varnishes, waxes, air fresheners and building materials – to name just a few.

They release toxins into the air when the product is used or poorly stored. Some are thought to have cancer-causing agents and the side effects of VOC exposure can include damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys.

How to Improve Indoor Air

The first action should be to ventilate your home as far as possible. In days gone by, most houses had their windows open during daylight hours to bring in fresh air but many people now keep windows closed to keep the heat in.

But the more fresh air you bring into the house, the quicker the toxins will be replaced by “good” air. If you have air conditioning, make sure the filters are changed regularly because they will trap dust and other toxins.

Other long term actions include:

  • Vacuuming weekly to eliminate dust which can trigger asthma
  • Asking smokers not to smoke indoors
  • Washing sheets and blankets weekly in very hot water
  • Keeping pets out of bedrooms and off the furniture

Be Wary of Cleaning Products

Don’t just assume that all the ingredients in your bathroom cleaner or polish are harmless! On the contrary – companies are not required to release ‘trade secrets’ on product packaging, so you can’t always see how much of a certain chemical they contain.

(In fact, 80% of household products have been found to contain ingredients linked to allergies in children.)

Children are far more vulnerable than adults to illnesses caused by toxins in the home because their organs are yet to fully develop and their immune systems are still learning to fend off illness.

Natural and Eco-friendly Products

When shopping for products for use in your home – everything from anti-perspirant deodorant to oven or bathroom cleaners – go for the least toxic. There are now alternatives to many chemical products so look first for those in which ingredients are 100% derived and sourced from plant-based material.

As well as helping to protect your family from harmful and easily avoidable toxins, you will also be protecting the planet by using products which have less impact on the environment.

To read more on healthy home and housing visit – Sustainable Build

Healthy ways to keep out critters and bugs

Let’s face it: Most people hate pesky invaders in their home. But that seldom stops critters and bugs to find a way in.

When temperatures drop, a natural response is to seek warmer and cozier surroundings — not just for people but for all kinds of creatures. Most homeowners are aware and on the lookout for signs that critters and insects try to invade their buildings and living spaces.

Pest management is an important part of home ownership and building maintenance. But while many people may turn towards chemical-laden pesticides as a control measure, experts have been calling for a more environmentally friendly and prevention-based way to control bugs and critters: Integrated pest management.

What are pests?

We may call annoying family members or co-workers a pest sometimes, but pests are defined as animals or plants with harmful effects on humans, food or living conditions.

These include

  • Mosquitoes (they can spread diseases)
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Silverfish (they may damage clothing)
  • Termites (they may damage the building)
  • Bedbugs
  • Cockroaches
  • Flies
  • Lice
  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Spiders

Seeing the occasional spider or mosquito inside a home is nothing to fret about, since they occasionally enter the home through open doors or windows. But many pests carry diseases and contribute to bad air quality, so preventing infestations is key.

What to do about pests

Integrated pest management is all about prevention, monitoring and control. It includes regular inspections of the home or building, keeping records of the findings and pinpointing trends in outbreaks.

Most experts will tell you that you can never fully get rid of pests – you can only control their population and make sure they are not turning into an all-out infestation.

It’s nevertheless possible to control pests with proper cleaning and maintenance, structural repairs, mechanical and living biological controls, non-chemical methods, and the least toxic pesticides – if, and only if, all other methods of control have been exhausted.

According to Beyond Pesticides, the least toxic pesticides include boric acid, desiccant dusts (diatomaceous earth and silica gel), microbe-based pesticides and pesticides made with certain essential oils.

Examples of IPM measures:

  1. Inspect a home and identify points of entry for pests such as mice. Even tiny holes above ground level can allow mice to squeeze through. Use caulk to seal cracks.
  2. Install screens on doors and windows.
  3. Store food properly and keep the kitchen free of dirt, grease and crumbs.

How toxic pesticides affect your health

Toxic pesticides are quite dangerous and should only be used when needed and according to the instructions. Government websites in North America feature long lists of possible health effects linked to pesticide use.

Mild poisoning: Effects include irritation to eyes, nose and throat, headaches, nausea, insomnia and many more

Moderate poisoning is characterized by vomiting, coughing, rapid pulse, weakness and mental confusion, among many other symptoms

Severe poisoning includes symptoms such as inability to breathe, muscle twitching, chemical burns and even death.

Children are most susceptible to pesticides and they should be protected as much as possible. Pesticides are made with complex chemicals, many of which are known to affect the neurological system or lead to the development of cancer. Traces of them can build up in human bodies and lead to health effects over time.

Article Source – Environmental Expert

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