Environmental Dust Fall Out | Causes, Effects and Management

The Causes, Potentially Harmful Effects and Prevention of Environmental Dust Fall Out

Household dust or pollen can cause coughs, sneezing, and watery eyes. But, environmental dust fall out in the workplace can have far more severe consequences. Occupational exposure to dust has been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a collective term covering several conditions, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is characterised by persistent, productive coughing, breathlessness on exertion, and frequent chest infections. In 2019, COPD was responsible for more than 3,2 million deaths worldwide. Many of those fatalities can be linked directly to unhealthy working conditions.

Hazardous dust is a frequent occurrence in the mining and construction industries, requiring stringent countermeasures to limit the attendant health risks. However, tiny suspended particles are also a potential threat to workers in many other sectors that can lead to increased illness and absenteeism and impact production targets adversely.

Environmental Dust Fall Out

Common Causes of Environmental Dust Fall Out in the Workplace

Many operations at work can generate dust particles. Unless these are dealt with effectively, they could remain suspended in the ambient air where nearby workers or visitors could unknowingly inhale them. Some typical activities responsible for polluting the surroundings in this way include drilling, grinding, sawing and sandblasting.

Mine workers face an additional threat from the particulate suspension released by blasting in the confined spaces typical of underground workings. They were also the first workers to attract the attention of healthcare authorities motivating the establishment of clinics to treat their respiratory problems.


Adverse Effects of Environmental Dust Fall Out at Work

COPD is just one of the potential consequences of prolonged and repeated exposure to atmospheric dust. Many will be familiar with the effects of inhaling asbestos particles. In addition to the scarring of lung tissue known as asbestosis, and pleural effusion, many workers develop a rare type of cancer called mesothelioma. Inhaled asbestos fibres can remain in the lungs for life, where they could provoke malignancies in other organs, including the larynx, stomach and colorectal region. These frequently fatal conditions often develop decades after the worker is exposed.

Silicosis is typified by scarring or fibrosis in lung tissue. It has also been cited as a possible cause of lung cancer. The condition is commonly associated with several occupations, including glass and ceramic manufacturing, brick and stone cutting, quarrying and tunnelling. Concrete and mortar are over 70% silica. Among coal miners, the biggest threat is pneumoconiosis, often called “black lung”.

Although the incidence of berylliosis is low, workers in the aerospace, automobile, computer, telecoms and other industries where beryllium or its alloys are used are at risk. This respiratory disease has almost a 40% mortality rate.


Managing Environmental Dust Fall Out

There are several ways to manage atmospheric dust levels at work. The following are just two options:

  • Dust Removal Strategies: Extraction systems attached to tools can syphon off potentially harmful particles at the source, assisted by efficient ventilation.
  • Suppression: In some situations, spraying cutting surfaces and floors with water can be sufficient to prevent dust particles from becoming airborne.

As an additional precaution or when the above techniques are not sufficiently effective, respirators and other personal protection equipment may prove necessary. Whatever the case, with 20 years of experience, IOH Solutions has the answer. Contact us today and let us address your concerns about environmental dust fall out.

Contact Us for Environmental Dust Fall Out Solutions