PM10 dust is a must-see that we are faced with in materials mining. PM10 dust is one of the most important environmental problems the mining industry has to solve. Although dust is made up of tiny particles, it can affect health, safety, and the environment.
Throughout this article, you will learn about the types of dust produced in the workplace, carried out in the mining area. You will also study the repercussions of breathing it for long periods. We will even explore the sanitary measures that the legislation can pass on to reduce the impact of the effects on employees and the nearby population.
What is dust?
Dust consists of small particles floating in the air we inhale when we breathe. There are two categories for this material: organic and inorganic. The first is made up of biological substances such as cotton, tobacco, and cane fiber. The second is composed of non-living substances such as iron, carbon, and others.
Dust can have an important impact on those who breathe it; even its type and size influence the environment. The world health organization classifies dust as follows:
- Inhalable dust
This type of dust can be seen and can be inhaled through the nose or enter our body through our mouth. The size of this type of powder is less than 100 microns.
- Breathable dust
This type of dust is small so it goes unnoticed by human eyes. Inhaling it is dangerous as it can easily enter the bronchioles.
The dimension of this powder is expressed in microns. PM10 dust measures less than 10 microns and is made up of both types of dust, both inhalable and breathable. This type of dust easily settles in people’s respiratory tracts. Dust fragments ranging from 2.5 microns to 10 are classified as thick particles. On the other hand, those that measure less than 2.5 are classified as fine particles.
PM10 dust in mining operations
Much of the work related to the mining sector generates PM10 dust. Through the mechanical alteration of rocks, extraction of materials by excavators and shovels, this powder is generated and left in the environment.
The dust called PM2.5 which has a fine texture corresponds to 5% of fine particles in extraction activities.
Direct and indirect effects of PM10 particulates generated in mining activities
PM10 particulates are mainly produced in most of the mining processes. This is an issue of concern for health personnel, safety, and environmental activists.
The consequences of exposure to this dust for both workers and residents near mining areas are:
- Breathing problems and constant tiredness
- Evolution of asthma to higher levels in people who suffer from it.
- Constant requirement of medication for the respiratory tract
- Lung cancer
- Heart disease
Depending on the material inhaled through dust, some types of diseases may come about, such as:
- Asbestos generates asbestosis
- Silica generates silicosis
- Carbon generates pneumoconiosis
It is the responsibility of the company that works in mining areas to take measures to avoid the influence of dust on the health of workers and nearby communities. PM10 dust is dangerous and short-term consequences of this on people’s health can begin to be noticed.
Impact of PM10 dust on communities and the environment
There are many communities close to mining work environments. These communities and their inhabitants are affected depending on the proximity of the mine and the wind.
PM10 dust can settle on clothing, roofs, and in water. The effect of this dust on the environment has a bearing on animals and plants. In addition to wearing away the nutrients that come from the soil and damaging crops. If there are crops in areas near the mines, it is for sure that the PM10 dust will cause losses in the crop. It is important to have control over it so as not to thwart the activities of nearby communities.
Who tracks PM10 exposure?
In general, the occupational exposure limit (OEL) represents the maximum airborne concentration of a toxic substance to which a worker can be exposed over some time without suffering any harmful consequences.
These limits are set out by many professional organizations around the world, such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the United States. They are established based on the chemical properties of the substance, experimental studies on animals and humans, toxicological and epidemiological data.
The world health organization provides scientific advice to countries regarding the impact of dust on people. Taking into account that each country has its weather conditions, economic conditions, and working hours, the WHO provides individual guidelines for each of them.
What are the measures to reduce PM10 dust in mines?
For PM10 dust reduction measures to be successful, the environmental, occupational hazards, and engineering areas must work on their dust control initiatives.
Plain raw water misting as dust control systems can be the solution to PM10 particulate emissions, provided they correctly pre-treat the water to be used and that the applied misting system can generate small micron-sized droplets as close as possible to 10 microns. With the high-pressure water system method, the air is saturated with atomized micro water droplets and PM10 dust is trapped effectively.
When implementing a high-pressure water mist system, it is important to keep in mind that the drops and particles to be controlled must be very similar in size. If drops of water exceed the size of the particles, the particulates (dust particles) will bounce off the water droplets caused by the impossibility of the dust particle to break a bigger droplet surface tension. In the same manner, the nozzles must be adjusted to the ideal pressure and flow.
The effectiveness of this solution to the problem of PM10 dust in mines has been proven. Thanks to this system, the risk of illness in workers and occupational accidents have been reduced. It also improves the work environment and that of the communities around the mine.
Need to know more about PM10 dust control?
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Get in contact with us. If you want to know more about our services, we are ready to provide you with efficient and quick solutions.