After dampafter-dampinhaling poisonous gases
Canaries were introduced into British collieries in the 1890s by John Scott Haldane, the noted physiologist. Gas detectors are available now which detect toxic gases such as carbon monoxide at very low levels. They are widely available to protect domestic premises. The levels of gas detection depend on the methods used. *Glossary of coal mining terminology *J S Haldane and J G Priestley, Respiration, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. (1935)

Hydrogen sulfide

hydrogen sulphideH 2 SStink damp
The formation of may have been initiated by massive volcanic eruptions, which emitted carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which warmed the oceans, lowering their capacity to absorb oxygen that would otherwise oxidize. The increased levels of hydrogen sulfide could have killed oxygen-generating plants as well as depleted the ozone layer, causing further stress. Small blooms have been detected in modern times in the Dead Sea and in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Namibia. * * H 2 S + NaOH → NaSH + H 2 O.

Coal mining

coal minecollierycoal miner
Black damp: a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen in a mine can cause suffocation, and is formed as a result of corrosion in enclosed spaces so removing oxygen from the atmosphere. After damp: similar to black damp, after damp consists of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen and forms after a mine explosion. Fire damp: consists of mostly methane, a highly flammable gas that explodes between 5% and 15% – at 25% it causes asphyxiation. Stink damp: so named for the rotten egg smell of the hydrogen sulfide gas, stink damp can explode and is also very toxic. White damp: air containing carbon monoxide which is toxic, even at low concentrations''. Daniel Burns.

Davy lamp

miner's lampminer's safety lampDavy
Miners could place the safety lamp close to the ground to detect gases, such as carbon dioxide, that are denser than air and so could collect in depressions in the mine; if the mine air was oxygen-poor (asphyxiant gas), the lamp flame would be extinguished (black damp or chokedamp). A methane-air flame is extinguished at about 17% oxygen content (which will still support life), so the lamp gave an early indication of an unhealthy atmosphere, allowing the miners to get out before they died of asphyxiation. In 1816, the Cumberland Pacquet reported a demonstration of the Davy lamp at William Pit, Whitehaven. Placed in a blower "... the effect was grand beyond description.

Damp (mining)

coal dampdampDamps
*Mining accident * Gas in Coal Mines, everything2 Afterdamp, a mixture of gases (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and others) produced following explosions of firedamp or coal dust. Blackdamp, stythe or choke damp, a suffocating mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Firedamp, any mixture of flammable gases, principally methane. Stinkdamp, usually hydrogen sulfide; toxic and explosive, but easily detectable by the smell. Whitedamp, carbon monoxide, highly dangerous due to being both toxic and explosive but having no warning smell.


White damp
*JS Haldane and JG Priestley, Respiration, Oxford University Press, 2nd Ed (1935)

Gas detector

gas sensorgas detectiongas sensors
Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, coal miners would bring canaries down to the tunnels with them as an early detection system against life-threatening gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane. The canary, normally a very songful bird, would stop singing and eventually die if not removed from these gases, signaling the miners to exit the mine quickly. The first gas detector in the industrial age was the flame safety lamp (or Davy lamp) was invented by Sir Humphry Davy (of England) in 1815 to detect the presence of methane (firedamp) in underground coal mines. The flame safety lamp consisted of an oil flame adjusted to specific height in fresh air.

Mine rescue

mines rescueMines Rescue StationRescuers
Apart from safety lamps to detect gases, they had no special equipment. Most deaths in coal mines were caused by the poisonous gases caused by explosions, particularly afterdamp or carbon monoxide. Survivors of explosions were rare and most apparatus taken underground was used to fight fires or recover bodies. Early breathing apparatus derived from under-sea diving was developed and a crude nose and mouthpiece and breathing tubes was tried in France before 1800. Gas masks of various types were tried in the early-19th century: some had chemical filters, others goat skin reservoirs or metal canisters, but none eliminated carbon dioxide rendering them of limited use.

Glossary of coal mining terminology

Blackdamp :Blackdamp is the name given to a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Blower :A blower was a source of firedamp issuing into the mine from a fissure in the coal. The term "feeder" was used in some areas. The issue of gas was often audible, hence the name. Brattice :Brattice, strong canvas sheeting coated in tar to make it air-tight, is used to make partitions to deflect air into particular areas of a colliery or divide a shaft to improve ventilation and dilute flammable or noxious gases. Bump :A bump, pounce, thump or goff was a sudden movement in the strata while underground and occasionally gave warning of an imminent outburst.

Coal dust

pulverized coalcoalcoal dust explosion
The main attempts at prevention include using safety lamps, adding stone dust coffers to mine galleries to dilute the coal dust, watering workings and ensuring efficient ventilation of all the workings. Another means of preventing coal dust explosions is by placing rock dust in the mine, which is usually pulverized limestone dust, which absorbs thermal energy from the heated gasses. Rock dusting has been used since the early 1900s, but there have been technological improvements since then.

Mining accident

mine disasteraccidentmining accidents
Mining accidents can happen from a variety of causes, including leaks of poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulfide or explosive natural gases, especially firedamp or methane, dust explosions, collapsing of mine stopes, mining-induced seismicity, flooding, or general mechanical errors from improperly used or malfunctioning mining equipment (such as safety lamps or electrical equipment). Use of improper explosives underground can also cause methane and coal dust explosions. On April 26, 1942, in the Benxihu (Honkeiko) coal mine, what is believed to be the worst mining disaster in history, took the lives of over 1,500 people.

Humphry Davy

Sir Humphry DavyDavySir Humphry Davy, Bt
(on Davy's safety lamp). (on Davy's safety lamp). (on Davy's safety lamp). (on Davy's safety lamp). (Davy's first name is spelled incorrectly in this book.). The Collected Works of Humphry Davy. ''Journal of a Tour made in the years 1828, 1829, through Styria, Carniola, and Italy, whilst accompanying the late Sir Humphry Davy by J. J. Tobin (1832). Humphry Davy, Poet and Philosopher by Thomas Edward Thorpe, New York: Macmillan, 1896. Young Humphry Davy: The Making of an Experimental Chemist by June Z. Fullmer, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2000. BBC – Napoleon's medal 'cast into sea'. Young Humphry Davy: The Making of an Experimental Chemist by June Z.


methane gasCH 4 liquid methane
An adaptation of the Sabatier methanation reaction may be used with a mixed catalyst bed and a reverse water-gas shift in a single reactor to produce methane from the raw materials available on Mars, utilizing water from the Martian subsoil and carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere. Methane could be produced by a non-biological process called serpentinization involving water, carbon dioxide, and the mineral olivine, which is known to be common on Mars. In November 1776, methane was first scientifically identified by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in the marshes of Lake Maggiore straddling Italy and Switzerland.

Carbon monoxide

COcarbon monoxide (CO)carbon monoxide poisoning
It reacts with hydroxyl radical ( • OH) to produce a radical intermediate • HOCO, which transfers rapidly its radical hydrogen to O 2 to form peroxy radical (HO 2 • ) and carbon dioxide (CO 2 ). Peroxy radical subsequently reacts with nitrogen oxide (NO) to form nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ) and hydroxyl radical. NO 2 gives O( 3 P) via photolysis, thereby forming O 3 following reaction with O 2.


burningignitionincomplete combustion
Incomplete combustion will occur when there is not enough oxygen to allow the fuel to react completely to produce carbon dioxide and water. It also happens when the combustion is quenched by a heat sink, such as a solid surface or flame trap. As is the case with complete combustion, water is produced by incomplete combustion; however, carbon, carbon monoxide, and/or hydroxide are produced instead of carbon dioxide. For most fuels, such as diesel oil, coal or wood, pyrolysis occurs before combustion. In incomplete combustion, products of pyrolysis remain unburnt and contaminate the smoke with noxious particulate matter and gases.

Domestic canary

canarycanariesminer's canary
John Scott Haldane. Warrant canary. Sentinel species. McDonald, Robirda, Brats in Feathers, Keeping Canaries ISBN: 0-9730434-4-X. Miley-Russell, Marie, The Practical Canary Handbook, A Guide to Breeding and Keeping Canaries. ISBN: 1-59113-851-5. Especially useful to American Singer canary owners. Linda Hogan, Canary Tales. GB Walker, Colour, Type, and Song Canaries. David Alderton, Birds Care, You and your pet bird. Author unknown, The Canary Handbook, Canaries, Barrons. Tim Hawcroft, Health Care for Birds. James Blake, Fife Canaries. The Canary FAQ. The Rockefeller University. Canary Sound.

Felling mine disasters

Felling mine disasterdisasterFelling
One of the doctors was William Reid Clanny (1776-1850) who had already produced a first, impractical, safety lamp. Also present was George Stephenson who at that time was enginewright for the collieries at Killingworth. The society aimed for: Stephenson designed a safety lamp, known as the Geordie lamp, with air fed through narrow tubes, down which a flame could not move. It also led Sir Humphry Davy to devise another safety lamp, the Davy lamp, in which the flame was surrounded by iron gauze. The gauze had to have small spaces so that a flame could not pass through, but could admit methane, which then burned harmlessly inside the lamp.


From currently studied systems, the only unifying mechanism is the role of molecular oxygen, though many examples have a concurrent release of carbon dioxide. For example, the firefly luciferin/luciferase reaction requires magnesium and ATP and produces carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and pyrophosphate (PP) as waste products. Other cofactors may be required for the reaction, such as calcium (Ca 2+ ) for the photoprotein aequorin, or magnesium (Mg 2+ ) ions and ATP for the firefly luciferase.

Royal Society

FRSRoyal Society of LondonThe Royal Society
The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement. It also performs these roles for the smaller countries of the Commonwealth.

Industrial Revolution

industrialindustrialismindustrial era
Coal mining was very dangerous owing to the presence of firedamp in many coal seams. Some degree of safety was provided by the safety lamp which was invented in 1816 by Sir Humphry Davy and independently by George Stephenson. However, the lamps proved a false dawn because they became unsafe very quickly and provided a weak light. Firedamp explosions continued, often setting off coal dust explosions, so casualties grew during the entire 19th century. Conditions of work were very poor, with a high casualty rate from rock falls. At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, inland transport was by navigable rivers and roads, with coastal vessels employed to move heavy goods by sea.

Blantyre mining disaster

216 men had lost their livesThe High Blantyre Explosion
Notwithstanding Moore's claims for the Scottish safety lamp, the report's conclusions call for the banning of naked lights and the introduction of locked Davy lamps which "are better than the present safety lamps". The report also roundly criticises poor discipline (including shots being fired by unauthorised workers), poor ventilation around old or incomplete stoops and the whole method of ventilating one pit from another. The report does not come to a firm conclusion about how the explosion started.

History of chemistry

chemistryburgeoning chemistrychemical revolution
There had been many mining explosions caused by firedamp or methane often ignited by open flames of the lamps then used by miners. Davy conceived of using an iron gauze to enclose a lamp's flame, and so prevent the methane burning inside the lamp from passing out to the general atmosphere. Although the idea of the safety lamp had already been demonstrated by William Reid Clanny and by the then unknown (but later very famous) engineer George Stephenson, Davy's use of wire gauze to prevent the spread of flame was used by many other inventors in their later designs.

Gas lighting

gas lampgaslightgas light
He would go on to identify several types of gases, including carbon dioxide. Over one hundred years later in 1733, Sir James Lowther had some of his miners working on a water pit for his mine. While digging the pit they hit a pocket of gas. Lowther took a sample of the gas and took it home to do some experiments.

Outline of mining

MiningMining engineeringoutline
William Reid Clanny – inventor of the first safety lamp. Billy Elliot. Brassed Off. Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation. European Route of Industrial Heritage. National Coal Mining Museum for England. National Mining Hall of Fame. Salt-concrete. Scientific drilling. Well drilling. Water mining. Mining Journal. Introduction to Mining. What is mining?.


Some miners were sent to work in an area of the colliery which was not free from firedamp and the men were expressly ordered to use safety lamps. One man, John Moody, ignored this instruction and was observed using a candle. The overman ordered Moody to extinguish the candle, which he did. Shortly afterwards Moody was again found using a candle and reprimanded. He extinguished the candle and lit his lamp. The overman had just left him when the explosion occurred. 38 of the 41 men underground were killed, including a grandfather, his two sons and seven grandsons. Two days later eight workmen descended Nova Scotia Pit, part of the same colliery.