A large number of construction materials are made from sand, clay, granite, flint, quartz powder (silica), etc. and contain quartz (crystalline silicon dioxide). The same is true for some types of paint, filler, adhesive and similar.
Quartz dust is created when e.g. flint, sandstone, granite and concrete are worked, or during sandblasting. Some of the dust comprises small particles which go right down into the smallest parts of the lungs when inhaled. This respirable dust, as it is known, irritates the mucous membranes and accumulates in the lungs of the person inhaling it.
This causes a risk of development of silicosis (chalicosis) and lung cancer. These illnesses manifest themselves through coughing and increasing shortness of breath. The illnesses can be diagnosed through impaired pulmonary function and pulmonary X-rays.
It is possible to restrict the development of quartz dust as follows:
- Use the least dusty work processes, e.g. blasting instead of cutting things down, clipping instead of cutting, and use slow tools.
- Use tools which are connected to a vacuum cleaner or a central dust extraction system when you work with tools which strike, bore or cut.
- Make sure that you wet the area when you are unable to extract the dust.
- Set aside time for regular cleaning.
- Clean the area by vacuuming or wet sweeping, not by dry sweeping. Vacuum cleaners must be fitted with suitable filters, i.e. filters which are able to prevent the escape of dust which may be inhaled. You may, for example, use type H vacuum cleaners in accordance with the EN 60335-2-69 standard. An approved HEPA filter must be used for a class H vacuum cleaner.
- If necessary, use personal protective equipment. Respiratory protection must be at least a half mask with a P2 filter.