The Dangers Of Silica Dust
Silica dust is comprised of microscopic particles that become airborne during work exercises with materials that contain crystalline silica. Such exercises include:
– Demolition of certain Materials
– Materials include sand, concrete, block, brick, stone, and mortar.
The irreversible yet preventable lung illness known as Silicosis is developed through the inhalation of crystalline silica dust. Construction work exposes workers and anybody who comes into contact with the dust. Crystalline silica dust increases a person’s risk of developing serious lung diseases that could become fatal.
Silica dust is harmful when inhaled into your lungs. As it is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, you can be breathing it in without knowing. Breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. When silica dust enters the lungs, it causes the formation of scar tissue, which makes it difficult for the lungs to take in oxygen. There is no cure for silicosis.
Exposure to silica dust can lead to the development of lung cancer, silicosis (irreversible scarring and stiffening of the lungs), kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
It is estimated that 230 people develop lung cancer each year as a result of past exposure to silica dust at work.
Silica dust particles become trapped in lung tissue causing inflammation and scarring. The particles also reduce the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. This condition is called silicosis. Silicosis results in permanent lung damage and is a progressive, debilitating, and sometimes fatal disease. This is why we provide Dust-Free Flooring Removal and Concrete Grinding services.
What Are The Diseases Associated With Silica Dust Exposure?
Breathing in very small (“respirable”) crystalline silica particles, causes multiple diseases, including silicosis, an incurable lung disease that leads to disability and death. Respirable crystalline silica also causes lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and kidney disease. Exposure to respirable crystalline silica is related to the development of autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular impairment. These occupational diseases are life-altering and debilitating disorders that annually affect hundreds of workers across Australia.
Breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. When silica dust enters the lungs, it causes the formation of scar tissue, which makes it difficult for the lungs to take in oxygen. There is no cure for silicosis.
Silicosis typically occurs after 15–20 years of occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Symptoms may or may not be obvious; therefore, workers need to have a chest x-ray to determine if there is lung damage. As the disease progresses, the worker may experience shortness of breath upon exercising. In the later stages, the worker may experience fatigue, extreme shortness of breath, chest pain, or respiratory failure.
Because silicosis affects the immune system, exposure to silica increases the risk of lung infections, such as tuberculosis. In addition, smoking causes lung damage and adds to the damage caused by breathing silica dust.
In rare instances, individuals exposed to very high concentrations of respirable crystalline silica can develop typical silicosis symptoms as well as fever and weight loss within weeks instead of years. In these cases, medical evaluation should be performed as soon as possible.
Exposure to respirable crystalline silica increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Lung cancer is a disease where abnormal cells grow uncontrollably into tumors, interfering with lung function. The abnormal cancer cells can also travel (“metastasize”) and cause damage to other parts of the body. Most cases are not curable.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Exposure to respirable crystalline silica increases the risk of other lung diseases, primarily COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The main symptom of COPD is shortness of breath due to difficulty breathing air into the lungs. COPD is not usually reversible and may worsen over time.
Studies of workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica have found that these workers are at increased risk of developing kidney disease. For instance, kidney failure has been observed among workers with high silica exposure, such as in abrasive blasters who also were suffering from silicosis.
Learn More About Silica Dust Below
Being Safe With Concrete Dust
Concrete Dust is an inevitable by-product of the concrete cutting and grinding process. Saws, drills, and grinders make their way through concrete creating fine particles of silica. When inhaled, these fine particles can cause irreparable damage to the lungs. Preventative measures need to be put in place when undertaking any form of concrete cutting or concrete grinding to reduce the risk of long-term health complications.
What Is In Concrete Dust?
Silicon is the second most common element on Earth after oxygen. It is contained in most rocks, sand, soil, and plaster. Concrete, therefore, contains a good amount of silicon. When silicon is cut, crushed, drilled, or ground it can produce silicon dioxide, often known as silica (respirable crystalline silica) better known as concrete dust.
Why Is Concrete Dust Harmful To Humans?
When silica (concrete dust) is inhaled it gets trapped in the lungs as the particles are so fine. The trapped particles set off a bit of a chain reaction in the lungs as the body attempts to fight off these foreign deposits of dust. Prolonged or intense exposure to concrete dust can cause fibrosis of the lung making breathing difficult, reducing the quality of life and in some cases death.
How Can Concrete Dust Be Avoided In The Concrete Industry?
There are a number of methods to reduce the creation of concrete dust which reduces the risk of exposure when working with concrete, we will list the methods below.
Specialised Dust Masks are to be used in addition to either dust extraction equipment or water suppression safety methods. Respirators should meet minimum workplace safety standards and also be fitted correctly.
Class P1 particulate filters are used against mechanically – generated particulates e.g. silica and wood dust.
Class P2 particulate filters are used for protection against – mechanically and thermally generated particulates.
Class P3 particulate filters are used for protection against – highly toxic or highly irritant particulates and asbestos.
A specialist high-powered M-Class dust extractor is fitted to the saw or tool to vacuum up the dust at the point of cutting, drilling, or grinding. It is important to ensure the dust extractor is designed for the tool being used so it can effectively capture all the dust from the cutting, drilling, or grinding surface. The dust is collected in a bag that can be safely disposed of later.
Water suppression creates a wet cutting, grinding, or drilling area so that the creation of dust is prevented during the cutting, drilling, or grinding process. It is important to have a continuous flow of water during the process and the right equipment or conditions to cope with water containment and concrete slag and slurry runoff on the worksite.
What Are The Limitations Of Dust-Free Floor Removal?
When we are completely stripping out a flooring system, substantial dust is produced from removing the flooring system. This dust is still massively reduced by about 90 – 99.99% by connecting our HEPA Dust Extractor – DustMaster DM-2680-M Dust Extractor System to our Hilti TE DRS-B Dust Removal System which is connected to our Hilti TE-2000 AVR Demolition Hammers on all of our jobs. Unfortunately, small amounts of dust are still produced and cannot be completely eliminated.
We will remove all residues on your concrete slab, such as tile glue, magnesite residue, epoxy, waterproofing, stencil concrete, etc. with the use of a high-powered Concrete Grinder that is connected directly to a high-powered HEPA Dust Extractor DustMaster DM-2680-M Dust Extractor System.
When we are removing a flooring system such as tiles or magnesite flooring small amounts of dust are produced from removing the flooring system. There is a chance that around 0.1 – 10% of the dust may escape. Even with the use of high-powered dust extractors connected directly to our jackhammers.
What Are The Limitations Of Dust-Free Concrete Grinding?
Huge amounts of dust are produced when Concrete Grinding occurs. This is why here at Carpet Removal Sydney we have invested in a high-end HEPA Dust Extractors DustMaster DM-2680-M Dust Extractor System to connect directly to our high-powered Concrete Grinders and Hilti DG 150 Concrete Hand Grinders.
This allows us to provide our clients with a 99.99% Dust-Free Concrete Grinding and Hand Grinding experience while removing thin-set glue, tile grout, paint, glue residue, cement residue, magnesite residue, waterproofing membranes, epoxy coatings, stencil concrete, stamped concrete, spraycrete or any other coating on a concrete slab.
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