Interesting and Quite Terrifying Facts About Dust

It seems strange to title a blog ‘interesting facts about dust’. Are there any? It is dust after all.

But, you would be surprised at just what an impact these tiny particles can have on the health and safety of your workforce and why it is so important to exercise effective dust emission control in the workplace. As tiny as these particles are, they can be deadly.

Did you know these facts about dust?

  • Dust is heavy enough to see but light enough to be carried by the wind and is made up of a collection of microscopic particles
  • Dust particles can stay airborne for up to five days
  • For context, the human hair is approximately 100 microns in diameter, large dust particles range between 2.5 and 10 microns. Dust particles measuring 2.5 microns or less, can pass through into the lungs and cause significant health problems.
  • Dust creates rain – it’s true – inside every drop of rain there is a speck of dust. Airborne dust helps to create cloud condensation nuclei. Water in the air attaches to these dust particles and turn into droplets. When they become too heavy, they fall to the ground. This is also the reason that our dust emission control systems work so well!
  • In the 1930s, thousands of Americans went down with dust pneumonia and entire villages were wiped out. This was known as the Dust Bowl Event. It was caused by reckless farming practise combined with weather patterns which created a giant dust cloud.

The alarming facts

Unfortunately, dust is bad for your health. Certain types of dust are extremely damaging, and in some cases fatal.

  • Approximately 13,000 people die each year from occupational lung disease and cancer
  • It is estimated that over 40% of new cancer registrations/deaths are to construction workers
  • It is also estimated that more than 500 construction workers die from exposure to silica dust every year. That’s a staggering amount that is equivalent to 10 per week
  • Dust can also cause many other life changing illnesses
  • In the UK each year, 23.5 million working days are lost to work-related ill health

(Source – CITB.co.uk)

When you look at these figures and facts about dust, you can see why it is imperative that companies do their bit to protect their staff. In fact, it’s a legal requirement for employers to protect employees and the public from substances that are hazardous to health.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 act (COSHH) regulates activities that might expose workers to construction dust. A thorough risk assessment must be carried out and effective dust emission control measures put in place.

 

The diseases caused by dust

There are many diseases that can be caused by the various types of industrial, commercial and every day dust. These range in severity. While some can be less damaging and not life threatening, others are extremely dangerous and can be fatal.

Benign Pneumoconiosis

Most commonly associated with dusts from metals such as iron or tin, Benign Pneumoconios is disease is caused by inhaling these harmless dusts. They are deposited in the lungs to such an extent that they are visible in an x-ray. They don’t cause any damage to lung tissue and therefore the disease is not disabling.

Benign Pneumoconiosis - Facts About Dust

Pneumonitis

This is inflammation of the lung tissues or bronchioles and is mainly caused by the inhalation of certain metal dusts.  The symptoms of Pneumonitis are similar to those of pneumonia, but they vary in severity, depending on the metal inhaled.  The most common causes are cadmium and beryllium dusts

Pneumonitis

Mesothelioma of pleura

This is a tumour of the lungs which is mainly caused by exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma of pleura - Facts About Dust

Lung Cancer

Cancer of the lung can be caused by exposure to asbestos and silica dust. Past exposure to these dusts can cause this often fatal disease.
(Source – European Commission.  Cc.europa.eu)

Lung Cancer

How to control dust in the workplace

In the home, regular dusting and vacuuming is enough to keep dust at bay however, it is rarely more than house dust.

Dust emission control in the workplace is a whole different story. It is so important to protect your employees and members of the public when working in construction, mining, demolition or any industry where dust is a by-product of the work that carried out.

Silica dust, asbestos dust, talc, metal dusts and more, all need to be treated with caution.

Our dust suppression control systems are the ideal solution for controlling airborne dust and can help you to protect your workforce, and the general public.

If you would like details on any facts about dust or any of our systems, and how we can help you with an effective dust emission control plan, please get in touch or take a look at our range which include the JetMister, CannonMister and MultiMister.

You can discover more about these products here.