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SILICA AND DUST PROTECTION

What is Silica?

Natural substances like silica can be found all around the world. More than 25% of the planet's crust is made up of silica, which is present in most rocks, clays, and sands. Emerald, quartz, clay, and glass are some of their forms. Silica is used in various products for both industry and food, such as concrete and anti-caking agents. Silica sand and silica-containing rock are used to make concrete and masonry goods. Building components such as crystalline silica may expose construction workers to breathable crystalline silica.


Is Silica Dangerous?

According to the Silicosis and Silicate Disease Committee 1988, when employees inhale crystalline silica, the lung tissue responds by forming fibrotic nodules and scarring around the trapped silica particles. Silicosis is the medical term for this lung fibrotic disease. If the nodules develop too big, breathing may become difficult and could result in death. Patients with silicosis are also at significant risk of developing active TB (Tuberculosis).


What are threats of the Silica?

Workers with silicosis may show no symptoms. Breathing problems and coughing could develop as silicosis worsens. Infectious issues can manifest as fever, weight loss, and night sweats.


When the lung cells (macrophages) that fight these diseases are overwhelmed with silica dust and unable to eradicate mycobacteria and other organisms, it is thought that fungal or mycobacterial infections will ensue.


Silica crystals and a protein substance are frequently found in the lungs of silicosis patients, according to medical examinations. Depending on the interval between exposure and the onset of symptoms, pulmonary fibrosis (fibrous tissue in the lung) may or may not manifest in acute cases of silicosis.


What are the possible reasons?


Ignorance of the silica exposure sources, silicosis symptoms, and the illness's underlying causes;

Inadequate work procedures and engineering controls;

Failure to use less harmful abrasive blasting materials as a replacement for ones that include silica;

Lack of implementation of sufficient surveillance programs, including exposure and medical monitoring;


What are treatment methods?

Using a bronchodilator to clear airways and reduce swelling is one of the effective methods. Smoking can exacerbate the harm caused by silica and hasten the disease's course. So, quit smoking. Additional oxygen may be administered to help breathe more deeply. At first, patients might just use it when working out, but as the condition worsens, they might require it constantly. The doctor may advise surgery and refer a lung transplant specialist in cases of extreme severity.


What is Dust control?

Keeping dust out of the air is the key to preventing silicosis. As a dust management measure, a water host can be used to moisten the dust before it becomes airborne.


What are methods to control Dust?


Use the dust collection systems that are available for various types of equipment that produce dust. Make sure there are dust controls on the equipment you buy. To avoid releasing dust into the air, use local exhaust ventilation. Use the dust-control system consistently, and keep it in good working order. If the dust control system is not functioning properly, do not use the equipment.


To lessen the amount of dust in the air while drilling into rock, either utilize water through the drill stem or a drill equipped with a dust collection system. To keep the driller away from dust, use drills with positive-pressure cabs, air conditioning, and filtered air supplies.


To stop quartz dust from being emitted into the air during abrasive blasting, use abrasives with less than 1% crystalline silica.


To stop dust from being released into the air, use containment techniques like blast-cleaning equipment and cabinets.


Air monitoring is required to determine worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica and choose the best engineering safeguards and respiratory protection. As needed, conduct air monitoring to evaluate the success of controls.


To delineate the borders of work areas polluted by crystalline silica, put the warning signs. These notices must highlight necessary safety gear and alert workers to the danger (for example, respirators).

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