Laboratory Evaluation to Reduce Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust When Cutting Concrete Roofing Tiles Using a Masonry Saw

Health and Safety, ICU Environmental, Houston, Texas, USA.
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (Impact Factor: 1.17). 04/2010; 7(4):245-51. DOI: 10.1080/15459620903579695
Source: PubMed


Respirable crystalline silica dust exposure in residential roofers is a recognized hazard resulting from cutting concrete roofing tiles. Roofers cutting tiles using masonry saws can be exposed to high concentrations of respirable dust. Silica exposures remain a serious threat for nearly two million U.S. construction workers. Although it is well established that respiratory diseases associated with exposure to silica dust are preventable, they continue to occur and cause disability or death. The effectiveness of both a commercially available local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system and a water suppression system in reducing silica dust was evaluated separately. The LEV system exhausted 0.24, 0.13, or 0.12 m(3)/sec of dust laden air, while the water suppression system supplied 0.13, 0.06, 0.03, or 0.02 L/sec of water to the saw blade. Using a randomized block design, implemented under laboratory conditions, the aforementioned conditions were evaluated independently on two types of concrete roofing tiles (s-shape and flat) using the same saw and blade. Each engineering control (LEV or water suppression) was replicated eight times, or four times for each type of tile. Analysis of variance was performed by comparing the mean airborne respirable dust concentrations generated during each run and engineering control treatment. The use of water controls and ventilation controls compared with the "no control" treatment resulted in a statistically significant (p < 0.05) reduction of mean respirable dust concentrations generated per tile cut. The percent reduction for respirable dust concentrations was 99% for the water control and 91% for the LEV. Results suggest that water is an effective method for reducing crystalline silica exposures. However, water damage potential, surface discolorations, cleanup, slip hazards, and other requirements may make the use of water problematic in many situations. Concerns with implementing an LEV system to control silica dust exposures include sufficient capture velocity, additional weight of the saw with the LEV system, electricity connections, and cost of air handling unit.

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