Silica Dust Basics in Industrial and Commercial Facilities & How to Combat It.
Updated: Oct 7
What is Silica Dust?
Crystalline silica, more commonly known as Silica Dust is a mineral found in the earth's crust. Many manufacturing materials contain silica dust, such as concrete, sand, stones, and rocks. Silica dust is created when working with materials that produce it.
Silica is commonly created when the material is crushed, drilled, sawed & ground. This dust is then exposed to the open air and can be breathed and enter the airways of nearby workers & people. Breathing in silica dust can have negative health effects that can develop into silica-related diseases.
In the past 10 years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has done more to protect workers from exposure to dust and increase workplace safety and health of employees. With the help of new silica dust collection technology, there is a new way to protect your plant and employees from the harmful issues silica dust brings.
What happens if silica dust is breathed in?
Exposures to respirable crystalline silica dust can adversely affect your respiratory system if breathed in. People who breathe in these small crystalline silica particles could develop diseases such as:
Around 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to respirable crystalline silica while they are at work. What are you doing to protect your or your employees from silica dust?
How do I keep myself and my employees safe from silica dust exposure?
In short, the best way to keep your employees safe from silica dust exposure is to implement a high volume, low pressure (HVLP) dust collector or a low volume, high pressure (LVHP) vacuum system.
At Air Dynamics, we see these harmful dusts being produced multiple ways when we do a walkthrough of other facilities. Many times, these harmful dusts are being produced at the source of the tool such as the end of a saw blade, a grinder, or a sander. For these applications, we implement source-engineered controls, that capture the dust as soon as it becomes airborne.
Central Vacuums are effective for facilities with workstations that produce dust. This allows users to connect to a CV system with their own vacuum port, tools, and attachments. Should your production process not need a CV system, portable vacuum systems are also an option, especially if this is your first industrial vacuum system.
We offer a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) portable vacuum system, that could also be converted to a CV system depending on the production environment. To learn more, view our comprehensive central vacuum system guide here or visit our PLECO product page here to learn more about our portable vacuum systems.
If a facility operates where source capture is not an option, such as a high production process equipment where a machine produces a large amounts of silica dust and other harmful particles, we can engineer a high volume, low pressure system. A dust collection system using HVLP, can capture and contain large amounts of dust in any manufacturing facility.
Using pickup hoods around areas of high dust production, the dust collector captures the dust and filters it using high efficiency filters. Some dust collection systems are built to capture combustible dusts hazards of all particle sizes. After the airborne particles are cleaned, the dust collector system moves the air through an air purifying system such as a filter system and exhausts the clean air to the outside. There are multiple types and functions of a dust collector, so to learn more, visit our additional coverage of dust collectors here.
Is PPE equipment enough to reduce exposure to silica and other harmful dust?
There are various levels of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to reduce the exposure to various dusts. If one were to rely on PPE to reduce exposure, a silica dust-rated mask, or respirator with qualified filters would be a solution. 3M & Moldex offers a multitude of disposable masks to limit the amount of silica breathed, but some are not rated for 100% filtration.
PK Safety offers a list of PPE that can protect employees from silica dust exposure where a dust collection or vacuum system is not available but keep in mind, that PPE can be an effective measure to minimize exposure & should be approved and implemented by a firm specializing in Industrial Hygiene. Regular testing is recommended when employing limited types of methodologies.
The Air Dynamics Way
Here at Air Dynamics, we encourage any facility or plant that produces a harmful material such as silica dust to employ the best air pollution control devices they can to not only protect their products but also their people. We offer standard dust collection systems as well as made-to-order systems that are built to fit your facility. We also have our line of central vacuum systems should a source capture device system work better for your application.
Our goal at Air Dynamics is to offer premier and innovative products that create a safe, efficient, and productive work environment for our customers. Contact us today to find out how Air Dynamics can help you with your manufacturing support needs.
180 Roosevelt Ave. York, PA 17401 • Phone: 717-854-4050 • Fax: 717-854-4020 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This document contains information belonging to Air Dynamics Industrial Systems Corporation. Information contained within may not be released to or shared with any individual without the written consent of Air Dynamics Industrial Systems Corp.