Characterization of nano-to-micron sized respirable coal dust: Particle surface alteration and the health impact

Rui Zhang, Shimin Liu, Siyang Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Chemical and physical properties of coal dust particles significantly influence the inhalation of respirable coal dust by miners, causing several lung diseases such as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) and silicosis. Multiple experimental techniques, including proximate/ultimate analyses, X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), laser diffraction, and low-pressure CO2 and N2 adsorption, were used to investigate the chemical and physical properties of micron-/nano-coal particles comprehensively. Compared to the micron-scale coal dust, the nano-coal dust (prepared by cryogenic ballmill) shows the increase of carbon content and aromaticity and a decrease of oxygen content along with the reduction of oxygen-containing functional groups. Pore volume and surface area estimated by low-pressure CO2 and N2 adsorption have more than five-time increase for the nano-coal dust. The reduction of oxygen functional groups suggests the dropped wetting behavior of coal nanoparticles. The significantly increased pore volume and surface area in coal nanoparticles could be caused by the enhanced pore interconnectivity on the particle surface and the alteration of coal macromolecules. Weaker wettability and the highly enhanced surface area suggest potentially more significant toxicity of nano-coal dust inhaled by coal miners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125447
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
StatePublished - Jul 5 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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