NIOSH / Vulcan Drill Rig Test RESPA HVAC Precleaner+Filter+Pressuriser Technology

Published Tuesday 14 Oct, 2008 by Peter Woodford

Recently NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and health) in the USA tested the new LSM Technologies / Sy- Klone RESPA™ HVAC Precleaner Technology conjunction with Vulcan- a large OEM of Drill Rigs.

Operator health issues came to light from a study performed in 1996 and 1997 which showed an alarming prevalence of silicosis in the surface coal mining industry (see also updated report dd 11 February 2009).

This study was undertaken at eight different surface coal mining operations in central Pennsylvania and was performed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Department of Health Evaluation Sciences of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

This was a voluntary program that screened 1,236 miners for lung diseases and determined that 6.7 percent of these workers were classified with at least category 1/0 silicosis. In an anomaly that was noted in one particular county (Clearfield), 16 percent of the 213 participants were classified with silicosis [1].

Crystalline silica — also known as silicon dioxide (SiO2) — is the basic component of sand, quartz and granite rock and is found in varying proportions in aggregates, sand, mortar, concrete and stone, and is also in the air and the soil. Processes which may give rise to airborne concentrations of crystalline silica dust include hard rock mining, excavation, tunneling and earthworks, construction, foundry operations, ceramics production, stone works, refractory brick production, abrasive blasting, agricultural ploughing and harvesting, and the production of asphalt, agricultural chemicals, abrasives, glass and paint. If the dust given off from working with these materials is fine enough to be breathed into the lungs, it is termed “Respirable”.

Certain exposures to crystalline silica can cause serious harm to human health. Prolonged exposure to Respirable crystalline silica can cause silicosis. The revised Australian (NOHSC) national exposure standard for crystalline silica has changed for quartz, from 0.2 mg/m3 to 0.1 mg/m3 TWA.

The national exposure standards (NOHSC 1003- 1995- Exposure Standards Atmospheric Contaminants Nov 06 version) of 0. 1 mg/m3 (TWA, 8 hours) for quartz, cristobalite and tridymite are each to be measured in accordance with the methodology in Australian Standard Workplace Atmospheres – Method for sampling and gravimetric determination of Respirable dust AS2985-2004.

TWA = The average airborne concentration of a particular substance when calculated over a normal eight-hour working day, for a five-day working week.

Also the particle size must be < 7.0 micron and so one needs to use HEPA MERV 17 Filters (click here see information) to achieve such filtration levels.

As reported in the Rock Magazine (link below), recently NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and health) in the USA tested the new LSM Technologies / Sy- Klone RESPA™ HVAC Precleaner Technology in conjunction with Vulcan- one USA largest Mining Companies-  on one of their Drill Rigs.

The test was to evaluate the effectiveness of a Uni- directional System providing In- Cabin Clean Air for the Operator via the HVAC System.

Other than dirty air entering the HVAC system, some other problems were:

  • The Operator would need to open the door of the cabin periodically and this also allowed for dirty external air to enter the cabin.
  • Despite the fact that no dust cloud was visible when the cab door was open, Respirable-dust concentrations were nine times higher than when the door was closed.
  • Further adding to the problem, once dust enters the enclosed cab and coats the inside surfaces, it also becomes a dust source to the drill operator when it is later disturbed and becomes airborne.

Subsequently the test procedure was to incorporate the ultimate Precleaner solution with two (2) RESPA™ HVAC Precleaner Units.

  • One RESPA™ Precleaner to preclean external air distributed to the HVAC System.
  • The other RESPA™ is positioned to removed air from the lowest point on the cabin floor to recirculate and filter this air- as such to remove any additional airborne material that may have entered the cabin during periods that the door was opened.

The results were excellent and in summary:

  • The average concentration for all three days of testing was 0.09 mg/m3 with the cab door closed and 0.14 mg/m3 with the cabin door open.

This testing was focused on Operator health- however other beneficial aspects of the LSM Technologies / Sy- Klone RESPA™ HVAC Precleaner Technology are:

  • Maintains Designed Cabin Pressurisation: As the RESPA unit is motor driven then it still operates and pre- cleans even when the HVAC is off. By maintaining the optimum designed cabin pressure, means that the cabin seals maintain their integrity. 
  • Extends Filter Life: The HVAC Filter life is dramatically extended, no blowing out of filters / pads and so labour costs / productivity interruptions are reduced. Also as the RESPA unit has its own filter, then it can replace the existing HVAC filter system or will ensure that the filter / reticulation filter of the existing HVAC is maintained at optimum and with extended service life.
  • Cooling / Heating Coils: Maintenance of coils is virtually eliminated and so service life is extended.
  • Increases Operator Comfort: Clean air means that the HVAC system maintains efficient cooling / heating.
  • Enhances OH&S: Reducing  / eliminating the entry of contaminated air into the cabin decreases odours and enhances health aspects for the Operator.
  • Cabin Cleanliness: Increases the cleanliness of the cabin and protects mechanical / electrical components.
  • Filtration: The RESPA has three (3) filters available- click here to see details.
  • Mounting:  The RESPA SD Unit can be installed on a variety of different  types of machines, typically roof or hood mounted with only five (5) bolts.

For more detailed information see:

If you require further information. please contact us.

Footnote: Other information for Exposure Standards also refer to the Safe Work Australia (was NOHSC National Occupational Health & Safety Commission).