Construction Site Dust: Risks Involved and How to Control It
Construction dust contributes to a significant proportion of airborne particulate matter. When commercial constructions are ongoing, those in proximity are at risk of lung disease and other serious health issues. This article will highlight the dangers of exposure to construction dust and how to keep your construction site dust-free.
What kind of dust is released at construction sites?
One of the major hazards construction workers are exposed to is construction dust. Exposure to this can result in a wide range of health risks.
Construction dust is just a name given to dust emitted into the air from construction sites, and can be categorized into three main types.
Silica dust: Silica is a naturally existing substance in most construction products, such as mortar, tile, and bricks. This dust is released when minerals like drilling, cutting, and grinding are processed. The toxic dust released from silica is called 'Respirable Silica.'
Wood dust: wood dust is released when working with any wood-based material
Less toxic dust, also called non-silica dust: These specks of dust are released when working with mineral products with little or no silica, like marble, limestone, and gypsum.
What construction activities create more dust than others?
Every construction task can't be the same, and some create a lot of dust while others generate less dust than the rest. For example, sawing or cutting in any way may make less dust than demolitions. In other words, some materials emit less dust, and some are less toxic than others.
Demolition dust is particularly toxic, as many construction chemicals from the concrete and other materials are released into the air.
As such, it is paramount that both workers and other personnel take precautionary measures to minimize the hazards that come with demolition dust and protect those in proximity of a commercial construction project.
Dangers of exposure to construction dust
Construction dust can be very harmful to the health of workers or anyone exposed to these specks of dust; it can lead to some very severe illnesses and some very life-threatening in some cases. Diseases associated with exposure to construction dust are mostly among construction workers are listed below
Long-term exposure to silica dust and other dust particles that are released into the air can result in some cancers like lung cancer
This is a long-term lung disease that is gotten from very long exposure to Respirable Crystalline dust. As the dust particles enter into the lungs, the immune system tries to fight it. The continuous exposure leads to lung inflammation, and this affects the lungs ability to function correctly.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
It is a general name given to diseases that result in difficulty breathing. If you've been exposed to construction dust and have symptoms like wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and constant chest pain, it may be a symptom of COPD.
This is an allergic reaction that some people experience when they are exposed to some triggers. When these individuals come in contact with the stimuli, the respiratory airways become sensitive, resulting in an attack.
Controlling dust at construction sites
Some measures could be taken to minimize and control the volume of dust at a construction site:
Water is the most common measure used generally, and this is because of its low cost and easy availability. It should be applied regularly, at least thrice daily, and caution should be taken to avoid over watering that may lead to erosion. A tank filled with water is driven around the site, spraying water.
Seal all penetration in the walls before demolition.
Remove construction debris and dust through approved routes, covered or contained, to prevent dust generation.
Note that while these methods will reduce dust generation, they are not effective and will not completely eliminate the risks associated with dust exposure.
Construction dust barriers - the ultimate protection
The best way to eliminate the health hazards in construction areas is to install construction barriers. Using temporary walls, suspended ceilings, and barriers provides full protection against dust and debris created by dust and demolitions. With construction dust barriers, there’s also zero interruption to your business activities.
Safe Wrap guarantees you the highest level of protection to guard your assets and protect employees, clients, and people in neighboring homes and offices against these contaminants. Schedule an appointment now to explore your options.