The Impacts of workplace dust on Human Health

The Impacts of workplace dust on Human Health

As we all know there are several different elements that are harmful to the environment and therefore harmful to humans, but did you know dust in the workplace is one of major issues?

So why is dust harmful? 

The potential hazard of dust to human health is determined by the dust particle size (E. Terradellas et.al, 2015), (J.Dean et.al, 2019) and (NewScientist, 2019). 

There are three types of dust particles:

  • Low risk dust: non-Breathable particles – larger than 10µm for example soft wood dust.
  • Medium risk dust: Breathable particles – smaller than 10µm for example hard wood dust.
  • High risk dust: Breathable particles – smaller than 10µm for example taxic dust such as fibreglass, mould spores.

According to E. Terradellas et.al, (2015) Non breathable dust particles (larger then 10µm) only damage external organs causing sicknesses such as conjunctivitis, skin and eye irritations and enhanced susceptibility to ocular infection. Particles smaller than 10µm are Inhaled and often get trapped in the nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract (J.Dean et.al, 2019). This dust particles size if often associated with respiratory disorders such as pneumonia, asthma, tracheitis silicosis and allergic rhinitis (E. Terradellas et.al, 2015). Even finer particles may affect all internal organs by penetrating the lower respiratory tract and entering the bloodstream, this may course cardiovascular disorders (E. Terradellas et.al, 2015 and J.Dean et.al, 2019).

Why is it important to consider the health of dust on employees in the workplace?

Public Health England (PHE) in collaboration with The UK Health Forum and Imperial College London, have developed a modelling framework and estimated England could prevent around 50,900 cases of coronary heart disease, 16,500 strokes, 9,300 cases of asthma and 4,200 lung cancers, if there is a reduction of 1 µg/m3 in fine particulate air pollution (PHE, 2022) over an 18-year period.

Public Health England (PHE) in collaboration with The UK Health Forum and Imperial College London, have developed a modelling framework and estimated England could prevent around 50,900 cases of coronary heart disease, 16,500 strokes, 9,300 cases of asthma and 4,200 lung cancers, if there is a reduction of 1 µg/m3 in fine particulate air pollution (PHE, 2022) over an 18-year period.

What can be done to minimise the impact of dust on your employees? 

  1. Protect your staff at work by adding a Dust Collector System that is built for your industry and work environment in mind. There are a few ways to prevent dust exposer so choosing the right method for you is key to preventable measures. 
    Some things to think about when choosing a Dust Collector System. 
    • What size of dust particles are evident in your line of work and work-place environment?
    • The installation, where will the dust collector be installed? 
    • Meeting the requirement of air quality standards? 
    • Is the dust flammable, combustible and /or explosive? 
    • Will the dust require special treatment and handling? 
    • Disposal of the dust collected.
  2. Choosing the correct product for the size of the dust particles needing to be collected, making sure the systems you use are maintained to a high level and filters are check for brakeage’s. One way of doing this is with a Triboelectric probe (Dry Dust collector).  
  3. Dust collector system with a Triboelectric Probe for Dry Dust Collectors, such as the one Turbo Controls manufactures, can sense any partial size above 0.3 µm within the Dust Control System due to a breakage of sleeve filters. 
  4. Choosing the correct Header Tank for the size of the filters, dust collected and environment.
  5. The correct Controller and electrical system sequencing for Dry Dust Collectors is vital for correct air filtration within the workplace environment. The Sequencers/ Economisers serve as digital programmers, either providing for sequential activation of the solenoid valves or through a sensor for automatically measuring the pressure difference only when the filter requires so. However, a poor calculation of the sequencing will result in insufficient purification of the filters and therefore the cleaning of the dust extraction systems.
  6. Filters are a key element within a dust collector system. Therefore, the medium, size, flammability, and surface area of the filters need to be taken into consideration, for the dust particles size and volume of dust required during the purification process. 

In conclusion, it is vital that the correct Dust Collector System for your environment is placed in the workplace. With the correct expertise and equipment utilised, it will make the difference in preventing long lasting health issues for your staff such as cardiovascular disorders, Asthma, Strokes and lung disorders.

References 

Enric. Terradellas, Slobodan Nickovic and Xiao-Ye Zhabge, (2015) Airborne Dust: A Hazard to Human Health, Environment and Society. World Meteorological Organization (2021)

John Dean, Nwabueze Elom and Jane Entwistle (2017) Use of simulated epithelial lung fluid in assessing the human health risk of Pb in urban street dust. Science of the Total Environment, 579. pp. 387-395. ISSN 0048-9697 [ online] http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/28587/1/Dean%20et%20al.%202017%20%28002%29.pdf

NewScientist (2019) What is dust, and is it harmful to human health. NewScientist [online] https://www.newscientist.com/lastword/mg24232351-500-what-is-dust-and-is-it-harmful-to-human-health/  

Public Health England (PHE), (2018) Health matters: air pollution. Guidance [Online] (2022) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-air-pollution/health-matters-air-pollution

SLY (2021) Industrial Dust and Dust: your Questions Answered [Online] https://blog.slyinc.com/industrial-dust-and-dust-safety-your-questions-answered

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