Why were canaries used in mining in europe?

Devon Hansen asked a question: Why were canaries used in mining in europe?
Asked By: Devon Hansen
Date created: Wed, Feb 10, 2021 10:21 PM

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❔ Why were canaries used in mining?

On this day in 1986, a mining tradition dating back to 1911 ended: the use of canaries in coal mines to detect carbon monoxide and other toxic gases before they hurt humans. New plans from the...

❔ Why were canaries used in mining industry?

Why did they use canaries in mines? Canaries were iconically used in coal mines to detect the presence of carbon monoxide. The bird’s rapid breathing rate, small size, and high metabolism, compared to the miners, led birds in dangerous mines to succumb before the miners, thereby giving them time to take action.

❔ Why were canaries used in mining process?

If the canary died, they knew that they were soon to follow if they didn't run. The idea of canaries was first proposed by John Haldane, a man who knew quite a lot about dabbling with deadly gas.

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From the mid-19th century until the mid-20th century, Canaries were employed in coal mines as a grim gauge of air quality. The cages were placed on the ground where the miners were working. If oxygen was running low, the bird would feel the effects and become agitated (i.e. oxygen rises, so the lower parts of the mine would suffer the depletion first).

Later, canaries were found to be more sensitive and a more effective indicator as they showed more visible signs of distress. Their use in mining is documented from around 1900. The birds were sometimes kept in carriers which had small oxygen bottles attached to revive the birds.

Canaries had historically been used for centuries to detect dangerous gasses leaking into coal mines. It seems that canaries are much more susceptible to respiratory problems when the air has various pollutants. So, basically, if the canary fell off of it’s perch - then it was time to evacuate the mineshaft to get to fresh air.

This was one of the reasons why they were regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system. They would succumb quickly to any toxic gases - such as carbon monoxide, methane or carbon dioxide - giving the miners a chance to escape before they themselves were affected.

Canaries really were once sent down into coal mines to test for gas leaks. The Scottish physiologist John Scott Haldane pioneered the use of "sentinel animals"—caged canaries and white mice—in ...

But how were they brought into the mine? Initially, large boxes were used for this purpose, which resembled cages in an elevator, and from the 19th century, the horses wore a special harness. The horse was tightly bound and secured so it would not kick and hurt itself, and then it was slowly lowered down the shaft. The animals, once lowered to the mine, spent almost all their lives there.

From there the birds were shipped by cart to most major European cities. As the Austrian mines were depleted of their ore, miners who moved to Germany’s Harz Mountains in search of jobs in the silver mines carried with them a few dozen pairs of canaries. This foundation stock led to a race of the birds renowned for its singing.

By 1850, approximately half of Kanawha County’s slaves worked in the salt industry—many mined coal to fuel the furnaces. Salt operators eventually hired more white or free-black laborers due to the risk of investing money in bondsmen, who frequently were killed or injured in the mines.

The widespread availability of coal and iron was a significant factor in Europe's Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Although less coal and iron ore are mined in the United Kingdom today, they were once mined in large quantities and utilized for steel and energy production.

Robots now assist in drilling and excavation, in the detection of dangerous gases much like the canaries used in coal mines in the early 20 th Century, and in the hauling of rock in and out of mines. These autonomous machines protect humans and are essential in areas that are unsafe for people, such as abandoned mines.

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