Laboratory evaluation to reduce respirable crystalline silica dust when cutting concrete roofing tiles using a masonry saw.
ABSTRACT 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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ABSTRACT: Cutting concrete with gas-powered saws is ubiquitous in the construction industry and a source of exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Volunteers from the New England Laborers Training Center were recruited to participate in a field experiment examining dust reductions through the use of water, from a hose and from a sprayer, as a dust control. In four series of tests, reinforced concrete pipe was cut under both "dry" and "wet" control conditions. Overall, the geometric mean respirable dust concentration for "dry" cutting (14.396 mg/m(3)) exceeded both types of water-based controls by more than tenfold. Wet cutting reduced the respirable dust concentration by 85% compared with dry cutting when comparing tests paired by person and saw blade (n = 79 pairs). Using a respirable cyclone, a total of 178 samples were taken. Due to the high variability in dust exposure found in this and other studies of saw cutting, the data were examined for potential exposure determinants that contribute to that variability. Using mixed models, three fixed effects were statistically significant: control condition, worker experience, and location. A random effect for subject was included in the model to account for repeated measures. When each of the significant fixed effects was included with the random effect, it was apparent that inclusion of worker experience or location reduced the between-worker component of exposure variability, while inclusion of control condition (wet vs. dry) explained a large portion of the within-subject variability. Overall, the fixed effect variable for control condition explained the largest fraction of the total exposure variability.Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 02/2013; 10(2):64-70. DOI:10.1080/15459624.2012.747129 · 1.21 Impact Factor