Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Industrial Dust And The Human Body

Sometimes we get caught up in the mechanics, regulations, and safety of why an industrial dust collection system is needed.  Other times we are concerned with combustible dust and it's dangers, but what about the effects of dust on the human body.

Whenever people inhale airborne dust at work, they are at risk of occupational disease. Year after year, both in developed and in developing countries, overexposure to dusts causes disease, temporary and permanent disabilities and deaths.  The World Health Organization offers documents to help educate and train people and employers in the prevention and control of dust in the workplace.

Irritant dust can settle in the nose and may lead to inflammation of the mucus membrane as well as inflammation of the trachea or the bronchi.  According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety "The lungs are constantly exposed to danger from the dusts we breathe."  The most dramatic dust reaction of the lung occurs in the deepest parts of the organ, leaving scarring and impaired normal lung function.  The amount of dust particles that settle in the lung also effect the capacity of the lung and the ability to take full deep breathes.   Many lung diseases are caused by inorganic dust exposure to silica, tin, tungsten carbide and coal.  Even organic dust such as hair particles, hay, and dust of heat treated sludge can cause disease to the lung.

The eyes are not immune to the effects of dust particles.  Even most safety glasses allow small dust particles to reach the eye causing irritation and/or possible damage to the cornea.   OSHA has certain standards in place to limit exposures to specific dust and fumes.  Inhalation of cobalt metal, dust and fumes may cause interstitial fibrosis, interstitial pneumonitis, myocardial and thyroid disorders, and sensitization of the respiratory tract and skin.   Some diseases of the heart have been linked to dust and fumes.

You can find out more about health and dust related issues through the following links.
World Health Organization
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety