WHAT IS DUST AND HOW DANGEROUS IS DUST AT THE WORKPLACE?
What exactly is dust? The beautiful golden flakes dancing in the sunshine through the air? The grey coating on shelves and desks that can drive you mad? Or the thick, fuzzy "woolly mice" under machines?
Whether on the construction site, in the wood workshop, in the bakery or during DIY, if you crush, drill, mill or grind raw materials, blow off dust with compressed air, pack, store, transport or mix dusty goods, tear up and empty bagged material or sweep up spilled material with a broom, you often disappear under a cloud of dust.
All that is dust. Dust is the finest particles floating in the air. These can come from everywhere: from space, from volcanic eruptions, from fires, from industry or from nature.
But dusts are also hazardous substances. This is often forgotten. The hazard spectrum ranges from purely mechanical irritation of the respiratory tract due to an acute irritative or toxic effect (e. g. chemical burns) to the development of chronic inflammatory processes and the formation of tumours. Most affected are the bronchi and lungs, but also the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes, the skin and other organs throughout the body.
WHAT ROLE DOES THE SIZE OF THE FINE DUST PLAY?
The smaller the particulate matter, the more damaging to health it is. The particles must be less than ten microns to enter the respiratory tract. At a size of 2.5 microns they reach the lungs. Ultrafine particles are almost as small as proteins, penetrate into the body cells and from there to the blood.
TYPES OF DUST
Several types of dust are defined in industry and legislation, such as: I, A and U dust.
WHY IS DUST HARMFUL?
IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
- Floating dust affects (and reduces) visibility.
- Dust represents an immediate danger to machinery and equipment and may be a cause of technical problems occurring, such as overheating electronics in the absence of ventilation, rapid wear of moving parts, poorly functioning sensors.
- Suspended dust settles over time as a (sometimes greasy) coating.
- This dust can return to the air due to the slightest air movement.
- Settling dust contaminates the products.
EFFECTS ON HEALTH
From a health point of view, particles of a particle size of less than 10 or 2.5 microns are the most significant.
The inhalable fraction is the most dangerous. It penetrates the alveoli and settles there, the gas exchange capacity of the lung is impaired, and inflammation occurs. Due to the poorer oxygen intake, the heart and vascular system are also indirectly overloaded.
The symptoms of zinc poisoning, also known as "brass founder’s ague", are, for example, a sweetish taste in the mouth, sweating, chills, body aches and a depressed mood. Zinc poisoning is caused by the inhalation of fumes generated during the galvanising or welding of galvanised material.
WHERE IS THE DANGER HERE? HOW DANGEROUS IS IT FOR PEOPLE IN GENERAL?
This depends on where you work and what you work with. Not only toxic or ultrafine dusts, but any dust can lead to respiratory diseases at high levels.
The damaging effect depends on:
- The type of dust,
- The duration and amount of dust pollution,
- The place of deposition in the respiratory tract,
- The particle size.
Particularly dangerous is the intake of high amounts of dust over a short period of time or years of exposure to even small amounts of dust every day. Therefore, it is essential to extract dust efficiently under such conditions.
DUST AT THE WORKPLACE
The OELV (Occupational Exposure Limit Value) is defined as the maximum concentration of a pollutant in the air at the workplace.
HEALTH RISK AT THE WORKPLACE
In occupational safety, the health risks at the workplace are differentiated according to the size and shape of the particles as well as the material properties of the particles. The OELV is defined as the maximum concentration of a pollutant in the air at the workplace. This value is also referred to as the MWC (Maximum Workplace Concentration). By measuring the concentration of dust particles in the air at the workplace, it is possible to verify whether the OELV has been adhered to.
MEASUREMENT OF DUST POLLUTION
With the aid of dust measuring devices, it is possible to determine whether dust pollution at the workplace is compatible with health. The units automatically draw in air from the work environment and filter out the dust. The air concentration can be calculated based on the balanced amount of dust.
Measurements are carried out by the trade associations or accredited institutes (service providers). You are also welcome to contact us about this as well. Our sales staff will help you find the right contact person.
LEGAL FRAMEWORK CONDITIONS AND CURRENT LEGISLATION
With the international standard IEC 60 335-2-69 dusts can be divided into three different dust classes: L, M and H.
The trade associations can provide on-site information on the classification and the amount of dust produced during operations.
The dust classes are indicated in MWC or OELV values. This value describes the maximum permissible concentration at the workplace (expressed in mg / m³), which does not cause illness after prolonged exposure (8 hours per day). The lower the MWC value, the more dangerous the dust.
MEASURES FOR THE PROTECTION OF HEALTH
A SUITABLE EXTRACTION SYSTEM FOR YOUR DUST PROBLEM
For over 45 years, ESTA has been offering a wide range of innovative extraction products and tailor-made extraction solutions in the field of extraction technology for industry and commerce. Almost all types of chips and dusts can be separated with the appropriate type of filter. Find out about our comprehensive product range. We will find the right extraction solution for your dust problem as well.