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Prevention Or Protection: Avoiding Health Risks From Dust During Construction

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Anyone doing work that creates a lot of dust will need to find ways to keep from getting dangerous particles in their lungs. There are two major ways of doing this. You can either suppress the dust and prevent it from becoming thick enough to cause problems when you breathe it in, or you can take precautions to protect yourself from the dust that is there.

Dust Suppression

One approach to any activity that creates a lot of dust on the road is to use something that can suppress dust such as lignosulfonate. The substance is all natural and it has glue-like properties. It's derived from wood. In fact, it's a natural byproduct from paper manufacture when lignin is taken out of the wood.

Lignin has the ability to bind particles of dirt and dust together. Once water evaporates from the lignin-trapped dust, the particles will remains stuck under the sticky substance. It's useful to take some measures to prepare any road that you'll be working construction on for the application of lignin suppressant ahead of time, however. The best way to do this is to wet the road first.

You can use this dust suppressant without making sure the road is wet. But, the suppressant is generally going to be more effective if you go through pre-wetting procedures first.

Closed-System Masks

If you're going to be doing construction that may create especially dangerous dust, such as silica, it's better to take additional precautions besides just using dust suppressant. These systems usually involve wearing masks that have their own air supplies using a tank worn on the back. This way your eyes, ears and nose are completely protected, and you won't breathe it in either.

This is often an important precaution to take since according to the American Lung Association, breathing in silica dust won't necessarily show any obvious signs directly after exposure. In cases of acute silicosis, you can show signs after a few week or some months of exposure. This can be fatal, according to the American Lung Association.

And even if you don't show signs this quickly, symptoms can manifest after 10 years of exposure. According to the CDC, what's necessary is a half-mask face piece that's fit tightly and that has a continuous flow is often necessary, especially in areas where any kind of road work is being done on substances that have 1% crystalline silicate in them.  Road dust suppression is an important aspect of construction and should not be overlooked.