Dust Suppression Technology

Dust Suppression Technology

You may not think it, but dust suppression is not a new technology.

In fact, dust control has been a thing for decades, however the legalities and regulations surrounding it have become stricter. With this, larger operators have found new and more effective ways of suppressing dust to help companies adhere to compliant guidelines.

In the past, companies had to rely on hoses and sprinklers for suppressing dust in the workplace, with the aim of using water flow to keep the dust under control. But since new research has suggested that this method may not be as effective for controlling dust, manufactures have developed new products specifically for dust suppression.

What is dust suppression?

Dust suppression is a process that uses water to get rid of and stop dust particles from becoming airborne. As you probably know, dust can spread quickly and can be the cause of many health problems if not dealt with efficiently.

To quote the HSE’s guidelines on dust control:

“Regularly breathing construction dust can cause diseases like lung cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD – which includes emphysema and other breathing difficulties) and silicosis. Silica is the second biggest killer of construction workers after asbestos.”

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What does the law say about dust suppression?

Dust exposure must be risk-assessed under Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002. In order to act compliantly, all employers should:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Consider who might be at risk
  3. Assess the risk
  4. Introduce controls and management systems to deal with the issue

What are the main types of dust?

Put simply, dust is small particles that float around the atmosphere. Dust can develop from a number of sources, but below are the main types of dust that you may come across whilst working on a building site.

  • Asbestos
  • Flour
  • Grain
  • Silica
  • Wood

New technologies to help with dust suppression

Industrial vacuums

The most effective way to suppress large amounts of dust is definitely with an industrial vacuum. These powerful tools are designed specifically to tackle dust build ups, for example in a manufacturing plant, where dust particles are generated in huge amounts. They have been proven to provide the power and coverage to tackle this issue in large venues, helping to control the spread and minimise any risk to workers.

Tool attachments

Dust extraction at the source is the best way to capture dust whilst working. Many companies, including Dewalt, have developed a range of attachment kits for handheld tools, that remove dust effectively during the process of grinding, sanding or cutting. As you know, these operations produce lots of dust, and having these handy attachments on your tools will help to prevent the harmful dust reaching a breathing zone.

Ionization

Some larger companies have started to look into suppressing dust using an ionization system. The idea behind it ignites from charging parallel electric lines which run the length of a workplace, which effectively “flood” the atmosphere with negative ions, thus results in the deposit of dust particles on any surface. Although this system was originally designed to limit environmental pollution, it has been extensively evaluated in British Columbia for the effectiveness it has on dust suppression.

Why is water control effective?

Adding water to the fines increases the weight of every dust particle, so it decreases the chance that they will become airborne. The moisture from the water creates heavier groups of dust particles, making it more difficult for air movement to carry them.

It’s most commonly achieved by applying water through a series of properly sized spray nozzles at a point where the material expands and takes in air. Water control is also used to form a ‘curtain’ around the work area, meaning any fines that become airborne will come into contact with the water surrounding the open area.

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