Drilling concrete always ends up in a dusty mess. That is very insignificant in comparison to the health hazards that dust from concrete or stone poses for those residing in the vicinity.
Silica, a basic compound that constitutes concrete, cement, mortar, masonry bricks, tiles, and asphalt, breaks down into a cloud of dust containing Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) upon being cut or drilled. Repeated or continuous exposure to RCS can have adverse effects on the respiratory system. Silicosis, a disease in which the lungs develop small, hard nodules of scar tissue, becomes a stronger possibility. This condition is known to cause breathing difficulties, coughing and consequent loss of lung function. The speed of onset of silicosis depends on how long one has remained exposed to RCS. This condition is fatal, but it is most certainly avoidable if proper measures are taken. People with Silicosis are also at an increased risk of tuberculosis, kidney diseases, and arthritis. Moreover, exposure to RCS is linked to lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
According to recent estimates, about 2.3 million workers are exposed to RCS at their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers and 300,000 workers in general industry operations such as foundries, brick manufacturing, fracking and so on. It is the responsibility of every employer to protect workers and other people in close proximity from harmful exposure to RCS.
In the UK, exposure to RCS has a workplace exposure limit of 0.1 mg/m3 expressed as an 8-hour time-weighted average. It is set in order to prevent excessive exposure. Exposure to RCS is also subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH), 2002.
Since RCS is unavoidable during cutting and drilling of concrete or any other material containing silica, measures need to be taken to protect those who are at risk of exposure by getting rid of the dust before it can be inhaled using apparatus such as a dust extractor. An “M Class” dust extractor unit like the Dewalt DWV902M or the Makita 447M helps minimize the release of dust into the surroundings. The extractors are rated “M”, due to the minuscule, fine size of the dust they are capable of trapping. A good quality mask that actively filters the air being breathed also goes a long way in trapping RCS. Masks with HEPA filters are more preferable.
Dust extraction kits attachable to drills remove dust as it is being created. Such kits manufactured by companies such as Bosch and Makita guarantee a virtually dust-free environment while drilling or chiselling. These extraction kits are fitted with HEPA filters, widely regarded as the ultimate filtration system, as they extract the tiniest dust particles with an efficiency of about 99.75%.
Another solution for the generation of harmful dust is to attach an M class dust extractor or vacuum to an existing filter system on a power tool. One example of such a solution is the Bosch GDEMAX Professional Dust Extraction Adaptor, specifically designed to fit all current models of their SDS Max hammers which eliminates production of dust generated during chiselling.
Owing to thorough research conducted to study the effect that RCS has on the lungs, governments, employers and manufacturers of power tools alike have taken the risks that exposure to RCS causes very seriously.
We at CA Drillers are committed to minimizing these risks by complying with set regulations and providing necessary equipment to our team. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01227 458883.