Health Hazards: How Construction Dust Affects the Human Body? How to Control It?

          Pic Credit: Ned Jollifee

Considering Construction dust just to a temporary nuisance can cost you your life. Dust can cause serious damage to your well being and a few sorts of Dust can even be lethal to Human beings.

Constantly breathing these dust over quite a while can, therefore, induce life-threatening lung diseases.

Here we have complied research works from different health reports explaining Health Hazards due to Construction dust.

First, let’s understand the main types of dust.

Construction dust

Many construction works can produce high levels of dust. However, there are three main types of dust:

■ Silica dust – Produced when working with silica-containing materials like mortar, concrete, and sandstone also called respirable crystalline silica (RPS)

■ Wood dust – Produced when working with softwood, hardwood and wood-based products like MDF( Medium-density fibreboard) and plywood;

■ Lower Toxicity dust – Produced when working on materials with low silica content. Example: gypsum, limestone, marble, and dolomite.

Health risks

Anyone exposed to the above-mentioned dust particles has a high risk of contracting diseases. Following are the diseases caused by dust:

■ Lung Cancer;

■ Silicosis;

■ Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);

■ Asthma.

Further, diseases like advanced silicosis or asthma can take effect at a faster rate.

Some health experts even believe that irregular heartbeat can result from exposure to high-level dust particles.

However, most of these dust-induced diseases take a considerable amount of time to develop. What happens is that these dust particles form up in the lungs and damage them gradually. Consequently, these changes in the organs are hard to detect. Unfortunately, by the time it comes to the surface, the total damage already becomes life-changing, resulting in permanent disability and premature death.

Construction workers have the highest risk of contracting these diseases because being exposed to high dust levels involved in their tasks. Thousands of construction workers are estimated to die from inhaling silica dust every year.

The maximum amount of silica a human being can inhale in a day without harming the body is shown below:

How to Control It

Dust control solutions have come up in recent years, which are doing their part in educating construction companies on the hazards of airborne dust pollution and also with concerned health authorities in different parts of the world.

Here are a few of the standard procedures to control the risk.

Stop or reduce the dust quantity

Before starting the construction project, ways to stop and reduce the amount of dust must be checked. Different types of materials, power of tools, and other methods have to be applied.

Usage of:

■ The right size of building materials should be used so as to minimize cutting

■ Silica-free abrasives to minimize the risks in the blasting process

■ Less powerful tools – example: a block splitter can be used in place of a cut-off saw;

Control the dust

One of the most efficient ways to control the dust is to stop it from getting into the air. There are two important ways of doing this:

■ Water – water mix up with dust clouds and damps it down to the ground.  Constant water sprayed at the right levels during the entire process must be undertaken. However, wetting the material beforehand is not effective.

■ On-tool extraction – this process involves removing of dust as it is being created during the work. Local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems are installed, that fits onto the tool directly.






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