A lot of the major industries nowadays has factories that regularly spew out fine silica particles. These particles are so fine that the workers within the confines of the factory itself are in danger of inhaling them. This is a potential health risk to the workers that go beyond just a simple respiratory ailment. Silica is most abundantly seen in the form of quartz which is the most abundant mineral in the face of the earth. This means that a lot of industries would more likely than not have to deal with quartz and the hazards that it poses. It is present in most sand, clay, and rocks which means that industries that have to work with these materials by mining, producing or just handling them are already at risk. Specifically, the industries such as masonry, stone-cutting, asphalt production, road construction, paint and glass processing, ship building, microprocessor production, oil production and gas production have to handle the threat of silica.
In this article, we will find out if proper industrial ventilation from industrial dust collectors are enough, even as a partial measure, to reduce the health risks posed by silica. The short answer is yes, an industrial dust collector can help but it will all boil down to proper design. The ducts, hoods and the general airflow have to be precisely set up to keep the silica away from the worker’s lungs.
Health Risks That Could be Posed by Improper Industrial Dust Collector Setup
Silica dust that is fine enough to be breathed in is considered harmful by most health institutions. The conditions that are derived and results from it have been documented and proven to be quite damaging.
Silicosis which is a disease in a person’s respiratory system that can be characterized by scars on the lungs. This will limit the ability of the person to breathe in oxygen. Other diseases that can be gotten from poor silica management is lung cancer. It can also weaken the kidneys which results in its failure. Other ailments that can be associated with silica exposure are autoimmune diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. In fact, the respirable silica have been regarded as a carcinogen for at least two decades now.
Industrial Dust Collector Role and the Industries Affected
Occupational health and safety administration or more commonly known as OSHA have been keenly monitoring the silica exposure on several industries. It has put regulations and stricter policies for a lot of industries as a whole. Governing institutions particular to industries such as mining have also put up their own policies which subjects their constituents.
Industrial dust collectors are one of the talking points while they were crafting the policies. Ultimately, the dust level measured by accurate devices will be the deciding factor on how to classify particular plants with regards to their safety levels. The sustainability of these levels, however, will be heavily decided upon by the measures put in place to ensure that the facility is working at safe levels. This highlights the need for industry-grade dust collector systems to keep silica levels in check at all times.
How an Industrial Dust Collector Can Help
As previously mentioned, OSHA recognizes the importance of industrial dust collectors as an important component in keeping silica levels low. There are two main factors that can contribute to the effectiveness of silica particle collection. First, the design has to be on par with the standards set by OSHA. This means that the industrial dust collector model has to be certified by the institution. And second, the industrial dust collector has to be properly maintained. OSHA will ask for the maintenance plan and make sure that it is up to the standard of proper industrial dust collector practice.
A properly working industrial dust collector will have the three important points covered namely exposure, efficiency and emissions. All of these factors will contribute to the ability of the industrial dust collector to filter out harmful silica from circulating in the workspace.
The goal of industrial dust collectors, in general, is to reduce the concentration of dust, including respirable silica, from the ambient air of the workspace. This can only be done if the industrial dust collector is exposed to the working space of the industrial plants.
As with any mechanical applications, how well it is working can be summarized into one value, its efficiency. This is no different when dealing with industrial dust collectors where there are a lot of components and factors that can easily cause the degradation of machine function. Maintaining the efficiency of an industrial dust collector is the second point of emphasis that industries have to key on.
Finally, the emissions released by the industrial dust collector to the atmosphere have to be limited. This point highlights the fact that a factory’s responsibility of maintaining respiratory health does not end on the walls of the factory but beyond. While it is impossible to have zero emissions, it should be done so that it will not disrupt the environment.
Putting the Pieces of the Industrial Dust Collector Together
To ensure that the three points discussed are properly accounted for, here are the things that have to be kept in mind.
Industrial Dust Collector Hood Placement and Design
This is a critical step in maintaining the silica levels and the industrial dust collector functionality in general. Hood design can greatly affect how well dust emissions is controlled.
Industrial Dust Collector Duct Air Flow
To ensure that the industrial dust collector will work as designed, special notice has to be put on the conveying velocities for different kinds of particulates captured. When the particulate is specifically toxic, it will require a higher capture velocity such as in the case of silica. When you are adding a duct or hood, you have to beware. Improper placement is able to throw off the difficult balance of airflow within the system. This will also directly affect the efficiency of the industrial dust collector.
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