Silica dust can kill and go unnoticed. It has done so a multitude of times in the past and has become quite a habit.
In the last article, we defined silica as the mineral compound found in common construction materials. It is, in fact, one of the most common naturally occurring elements on earth, and every construction site is in no shortage of it.
Let’s get one thing straight: all types of construction dust when disturbed (cut, drilled, ground, blasted, chipped, etc.) using any tool like diamond blade will produce dust particles that when inhaled is dangerous to the health. As tiny as they are, these powdery particles should never be overlooked as they can cause both internal and external health problems. Apart from the visible, there are finer dust particles that are invisible to the naked eye. Just how harmful construction dust is to our health? Let us count the ways.
The most dangerous of them all, silica dust, is found in two forms: crystalline and non-crystalline. Unless disturbed, materials containing crystalline silica aren’t as dangerous.
In the UK, it is said that about 500 workers die from silica exposure each year. Some of the diseases construction workers are in danger of are silicosis (a closer look on this disease in the next article), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis, and asthma. Studies also link silica dust to certain renal problems and other cancers.
Skin and eye irritation are very common effects of wood dust. It can also affect the nose and throat in the form of prolonged colds and nasal dryness, among others, and can cause to develop allergic reaction which you didn’t have in the past. Naturally, it can likewise cause pulmonary diseases, the most dreaded of which is nasopharyngeal cancer, no thanks to carcinogenic types of wood like Quebracho, English Walnut, and Western Hemlock.
Non-silica dust may also cause pulmonary diseases and asthma especially with prolonged exposure and really, one need only to see tools like diamond core bit in action to know how dangerous construction dust can be. Spreading the word on construction dust is a fine idea.