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Dangers of inhaling dust

The lungs are the organs responsible for bringing oxygen to the human body and therefore maintaining us alive, so it only makes good sense that we take care of them. Still, they are constantly exposed to toxins, either at work, at home, or even outside. Certain types of dust are worse than others, such as:

  • Grain;

  • Flour;

  • And wood dust;

Lung diseases are among the most common workplace consequences associated with dust. Depending on the type of exposure, it can even lead to cancer (for example, with crystalline silica). As the effects of long dust exposure are incurable, the most important thing to do is prevent it.

Although our lungs have a self-defense mechanism, sometimes, if the amount of toxins is outrageous, they may need a little extra help. The nose itself works as a filter that stops the largest particles when we remove them by sneezing or blowing our nose. The result of excess inhalation of dust and other can lead to severe and lifetime diseases. So people have to be aware of the dangers according to the environment they are surrounded by. Workers themselves have to be aware of the work risks and how to avoid them the best possible, even through education provided by the company and self-learning techniques.

What to do to prevent it?

You need to implement multiple control measures in order to reduce the risk of exposure to dust and, therefore, its consequences. The first measure should always be replacing hazardous substances with non-dangerous ones. If these measures aren't possible, then other preventive measures need to be introduced. Some examples include:

  • Make wet processes in order to prevent the lifting of power around the environment.

  • Realize the removal of dust procedures under negative air pressure

  • Use vacuums instead of brooms

  • Maintaining good house hygiene is crucial, if necessary, hire a housekeeper.

  • Safe disposal of hazardous waste

  • In workplace:

  • Use protective equipment whenever necessary, such as a face mask.

Effects of short vs. Long-term effects

Short: eye irritation, coughs, sneezes, hay fever, chest tightness, and asthma attacks are a few short-term effects of breathing excessive amounts of dust. If you already have a breathing problem, such as asthma, even a small concentration of dust can drastically worsen your symptoms.

Long-term: overexposure to dust can cause life-threatening problems, as the fine particles, called respirable dust, can build up in your lungs, taking up space for oxygen. Although it's not proven that high concentrations of dust exposure lead to the development of asthma, they drastically reduce your lung capacity and contribute to chronic bronchitis and heart and lung problems (such as "pneumoconiosis," known as "dusty lung"). Occupational asthma is debilitating but not fatal. Still, if not treated properly, the dust build-up can create a lung infection, resulting in pneumonia, and your life will be in danger.

Where can you have dust?

Although what people may think, and with the majority of the dust being lodged in your lungs, it can still affect other parts of your body, such as:

  • Skin: even with protective gear (mostly eye and body protection), some types of dust can create an allergic reaction, and with long-term exposure, some more problems come with it, such as dryness and itchiness. In the worst case, some chemicals in dust can even result in skin cancer.

  • And brain: overexposure to dust can result in brain complications. Some studies prove that the everyday inhalation of "breathable dust particles" can result in early signs of dementia.

How to clean your lungs?

If you are frequently in contact with polluted air, toxic particles, or dust, have recently stopped smoking, or just wish to increase your pulmonary health, there are some things you can do. These techniques vary from forms of self-care to medical treatments but talk to your doctor before proceeding with anything. Some techniques are:

  • Steam therapy: with an appropriate steam machine or over a pot of boiling water, breathe in and out multiple times in order to loosen any mucus that is lodged in your lungs.

  • Invest in a good air purifier: you can't control the air outside and work air conditioning, but you can control it at home. Depending on the size of your home, choose to invest in a whole-home air-purifier system or a smaller one for a specific room. There are portable options as well.

  • As simple and basic as it might sound, some basic techniques come from healthy habits. Exercising regularly and having a balanced diet have strong effects on your immune system. For example, green tea and anti-inflammatory foods (such as blueberries, broccoli, and turmeric) are proven to help reduce inflammation.

As an employer, you have the duty to make sure that your employees work in a safe and clean environment. Your first priority should always be your workers' health and safety, so it's mandatory to keep the dust levels to a minimum. Therefore you need to make efforts to minimize dust contamination where possible and teach the workers how to protect themselves in more hazardous places. Unsafe places result in poor health, reduced productivity, profit loss, medical costs, and even legal action against the company.

Where to get help?

  • GP;

  • Local Council;

  • Department of Water and Environmental Regulation;


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