Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Atmospheric particulate matter size distribution and concentration in West Virginia coal mining and non-mining areas


People who live in Appalachian areas where coal mining is prominent have increased health problems compared with people in non-mining areas of Appalachia. Coal mines and related mining activities result in the production of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that is associated with human health effects. There is a gap in research regarding particle size concentration and distribution to determine respiratory dose around coal mining and non-mining areas. Mass- and number-based size distributions were determined with an Aerodynamic Particle Size and Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer to calculate lung deposition around mining and non-mining areas of West Virginia. Particle number concentrations and deposited lung dose were significantly greater around mining areas compared with non-mining areas, demonstrating elevated risks to humans. The greater dose was correlated with elevated disease rates in the West Virginia mining areas. Number concentrations in the mining areas were comparable to a previously documented urban area where number concentration was associated with respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3


  1. Hinds WC . Aerosol Technology: Properties, Behavior, and Measurement of Airborne Particles. John Wiley & Sons: New York, NY. 1999.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Dockery DW . Epidemiologic evidence of cardiovascular effects of particulate airpollution. Environ Health Perspect 2001; 109: 483–486.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  3. Dominici F, Peng RD, Bell ML, Pham L, McDermott A, Zeger SL et al. Fine particulate air pollution and hospital admission for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. JAMA 2006; 295: 1127–1134.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. Pope CA, Burnett RT, Thun MJ, Calle EE, Krewski D, Ito K et al. Lung cancer, cardiopulmonary mortality, and long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution. JAMA 2002; 287: 1132–1141.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  5. US EPA Particulate Matter (PM). US EPA Air & Radiation 2013. Retrieved from

  6. Donaldson K, Stone V, Clouter A, Renwick L, MacNee W . Ultrafine particles. Occup Environ Med 2001; 58: 211–216.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. Kim CS, Jaques PA . Analysis of total respiratory deposition of inhaled ultrafine particles in adult subjects at various breathing patterns. Aerosol Sci Technol 2004; 38: 525–540.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Oberdorster GE, Oberdorster E, Oberdorster J . Nanotoxicology: an emerging discipline evolving from studies of ultrafine particles. Enviorn Health Perspect 2005; 113: 823–839.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Sioutas C, Delfino RJ, Singh M . Exposure assessment for atmospheric ultrafine particles (UFPs) and implications in epidemiologic research. Environ Health Perspect 2005; 113: 947–955.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. Lippmann M, Yeates D, Albert R . Deposition, retention, and clearance of inhaled particles. Br J Ind Med 1980; 37: 337–362.

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. Anderson ZJ, Wahlin P, Raaschou-Nielsen O, Ketzel M, Scheike T, Loft S . Size distribution and total number concentration of ultrafine and accumulation mode particles and hospital admissinos in children and the elderly in Copenhagen, Denmark. Occup Enviorn Med 2008; 65: 458–466.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Hogg JC, van Eeden S . Pulmonary and systemic response to atmospheric pollution. Respirology 2009; 14: 336–346.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. US EPA What is Mountaintop Mining? Mid-Atlantic Mountaintop Mining 2013. Retrieved from

  14. Hendryx M . Mortality from heart, respiratory, and kidney disease in coal mining areas of Appalachia. Int Arch Occup Enviorn Health 2009; 82: 243–249.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Hendryx M, Ahern MM . Relations between health indicators and residential proximity to coal mining in West Virginia. Am J Public Health 2008; 98: 669–671.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  16. Hendryx M, Zullig KJ . Higher coronary heart disease and heart attack morbidity in Appalachian coal mining regions. Prev Med 2009; 49: 355–359.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Hendryx M . Poverty and mortality disparities in central Appalachia:mountaintop mining and environmental justice. J Health Disparities Res Pract 2011; 4: 44–53.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Ahern MM, Hendryx M, Conley J, Fedorko E, Ducatman A, Zullig KJ . The association between mountaintop mining and birth defects among live births in central Appalachia, 1996–2003. Environ Res 2011; 111: 838–846.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Esch L, Hendryx M . Chronic cardiovascular disease mortality in mountaintop mining areas of central Appalachian states. J Rural Health 2011; 27: 350–357.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Esch LM, Lusk S, Hendryx M, McCawley M Comparison of particle size distribution and concentration between MTR and non-MTR areas in West Virginia. Prepared for the American Association for Aerosol Research 30th Annual Conference, Orlando, October 2011.

  21. Hendryx M, Wolfe L, Luo J, Webb B . Self-reported cancer rates in two rural areas of West Virginia with and without mountaintop coal mining. J Commun Health 2011; 37: 320–327.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute West Virginia Rankings. County Health Rankings and Roadmaps 2012 Retrieved from

  23. West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training 2011 Calendar Year Statistical Report. West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training 2012. Retrieved from

  24. United States Census Bureau. State & County QuickFacts. 2011. Retrieved from.

  25. WV Division of Tourism Research . Quick County Facts:Pocahontas County. WV Department of Tourism 2006 Retrieved from

  26. Division of Air Quality Air Monitoring. West Virginia Department of Enviornmental Protection 2011. Retrieved from

  27. Stahlhofen W, Rudolf G, James AC . Intercomparison of experimental regional aerosol deposition. J Aerosol Med 1989; 2: 285–308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. National Weather Service Forecast Office Climate Data. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2009 Retrieved from

  29. Levy JI, Spengler JD . Modeling the benefits of power plant emissions controls in Massachusetts. J Air Waste Manage Assoc 2002; 52: 5–18.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. MacIntosh DL, Levy JI, Spengler JD Testimony before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission: Matter of a Pollution Control Construction Permit, Case No. IH-04-03 2003.

  31. Wilson WE, Suh HH . Fine and coarse particles:concentration relationships relevant to epidemiological studies. J Air Waste Manage Assoc 1997; 47: 1238–1249.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  32. Kolker A, Egle M, Orem W, Tatu C, Hendryx M, McCawley M et alAtmospheric particulate matter in proximitiy to mountaintop coal mines. Prepared for the VM Goldschmidt Conference, Montreal, June 2012.

  33. Knuckles T, Stapleton PA, Minarchick VC, Esch L, McCawley M, Hendryx M et al. Air pollution particulate matter collected from an Appalachian mountaintop mining site induces microvascular dysfunction. Microcirculation 2013; 20: 158–169.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  34. Ghose MK, Majee SR . Characteristics of hazardous airborne dust around an Indian surface coal mining area. Environ Monit Assess 2007; 130: 17–25.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


We acknowledge Bean Chen (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, WV, USA) Matthew Gurka (School of Public Health, West Virginia University), and Timothy Nurkiewicz (School of Medicine, West Virginia University) for their assistance and support.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Laura M Kurth.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kurth, L., McCawley, M., Hendryx, M. et al. Atmospheric particulate matter size distribution and concentration in West Virginia coal mining and non-mining areas. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 24, 405–411 (2014).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • epidemiology
  • particulate matter
  • personal exposure

This article is cited by


Quick links