Demolition and Dust: The Potential for Toxic Dust


The demolition of buildings helps create a clean slate for the construction of modern structures. In addition, demolition is an environmentally responsible option that helps to meet and improve safety standards. However, some demolition activities, such as cutting, grinding, breaking, drilling, crushing, or blasting materials, produce a lot of silica dust but with the right BossTek dust control equipment, you can keep workers safe. This dust is produced from materials such as concrete and brick. When the workers breathe in the dust particles, they put their health at risk because they can cause lung cancer and other diseases that can kill them.

This blog post will look closer at silica dust and how to control it during demolition projects.

What is toxic dust?

Toxic dust is particulate matter comprised of harmful chemicals and compounds. It is produced when working with toxic materials and chemicals. In demolition, toxic dust is produced when buildings are torn down through the drilling of brick, concrete, asbestos, and lead paint, leading to the release of harmful silica dust particles. During building and tearing down, silica dust is often made by things like cutting, drilling, grinding, and crushing.

Silica is a mineral commonly found in brick, stone, and concrete. When these dust particles are breathed in, they get stuck in the lungs. This makes it harder for the lungs to take in oxygen, which can cause silicosis. As mentioned, exposure to toxic dust can lead to many health problems. However, the problem’s extent depends on the dust type and exposure level. Short-term exposure will lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation. Long-term exposure, on the other hand, leads to more severe health problems such as silicosis and lung cancer.

Dust control during demolition

It is vital to have effective dust control measures in any demolition project to reduce the adverse effects of dust exposure. There are several ways to do this, but the best one can be chosen after a thorough inspection of the building to find possible sources of toxic dust.

Some of the methods that can be used include:

Wet cutting and grinding

Wet methods use water or other liquids to keep the dust in place and stop it from flying into the air while grinding or cutting. Wet methods reduce exposure to toxic dust. They are also an OSHA requirement when the materials involved contain silica.

 Vacuum dust collection

Vacuum dust collection is another method used to capture dust at the source. It involves the use of a vacuum collector that is attached to the source of the dust. Once the dust is produced, the vacuum collector captures, filters, and disposes of it before it can be released into the environment.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

PPEs are protective equipment that workers who come into contact with toxic dust wear. They include respirators, goggles, gloves, and body suits. PPEs are used in conjunction with other dust control methods to maximize results.

Limiting exposure

Lastly, limiting workers’ exposure to toxic dust is an effective way to reduce the effects of exposure. To achieve this, limit each worker’s time working on silica materials. This can be done in shifts, after which an employee is to clean up before returning to the dust-free area.

Toxic dust is made up of tiny, harmful particles whose prolonged exposure can lead to serious health problems such as lung cancer and silicosis. But workers can stay safe from this dangerous dust by taking steps to control it, like cutting and grinding with water, collecting dust with a vacuum, wearing protective gear, and limiting their exposure.

Watson Keith

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