The Laboratory was established in 1948. It provides a vital service toward ensuring the safety of those individuals working in Illinois mines. The laboratory was remodeled in 1993 with water and soil analysis added. There are three main functions of the laboratory: 1. safety (gas & dust analysis), 2. coal analysis (for state institutions), and 3. water and soil analysis for DNR offices.
Samples of mine atmosphere and dust particles are collected by state mine inspectors, through routine mine inspections. These samples are sent to the lab for analysis. Dust particles are analyzed for levels of combustible particles. Air samples are tested for air quality in the mine. Mines are notified when high levels of combustible dust are found, or air quality is found to be noncompliant and actions are taken to ensure safety for the workers.
Samples are taken of coal that is being delivered to specific state institutions and tested for parameters or amounts of constituents such as sulphur, moisture, btu and ash. These tests are done to ensure the coal meets certain specifications or parameters as required to be able to be burned at the institutions.