Concrete grinding exposes workers to unacceptable levels of crystalline silica dust, known to cause diseases such as silicosis and possibly lung cancer. This study examined the influence of major factors of exposure and effectiveness of existing dust control methods by simulating field concrete grinding in an enclosed workplace laboratory. Air was monitored during 201 concrete grinding sessions while using a variety of grinders, accessories, and existing dust control methods, including general ventilation (GV), local exhaust ventilation (LEV), and wet grinding. Task-specific geometric mean (GM) of respirable crystalline silica dust concentrations (mg/m3 for LEV:HEPA-, LEV:Shop-vac-, wet-, and uncontrolled-grinding, while GV was off/on, were 0.17/0.09, 0.57/0.13, 1.11/0.44, and 23.1/6.80, respectively. Silica dust concentrations (mg/m3 using 100-125 mm (4-5 inch) and 180 mm (7 inch) grinding cups were 0.53/0.22 and 2.43/0.56, respectively. GM concentrations of silica dust were significantly lower for (1) GV on (66.0%) vs. off, and (2) LEV:HEPA- (99.0%), LEV:Shop-vac- (98.1%) or wet- (94.4%) vs. uncontrolled-grinding. Task-specific GM of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSP) concentrations (mg/m3 for LEV:HEPA-, LEV:Shop-vac-, wet-, and uncontrolled grinding, while GV was off/on, were 1.58/0.63, 7.20/1.15, 9.52/4.13, and 152/47.8, respectively. GM concentrations of RSP using 100-125 mm and 180 mm grinding cups were 4.78/1.62 and 22.2/5.06, respectively. GM concentrations of RSP were significantly lower for (1) GV on (70.2%) vs. off, and (2) LEV:HEPA- (98.9%), LEV:Shop-vac- (96.9%) or wet- (92.6%) vs. uncontrolled grinding. Silica dust and RSP were not significantly affected by (1) orientation of grinding surfaces (vertical vs. inclined); (2) water flow rates for wet grinding; (3) length of task-specific sampling time; or, (4) among cup sizes of 100, 115 or 125 mm. No combination of factors or control methods reduced an 8-hr exposure level to below the recommended criterion of 0.025 mg/m3 for crystalline silica, requiring further refinement in engineering controls, administrative controls, or the use of respirators.
Quartz-dust; Silica-dusts; Respirable-dust; Dust-control; Dust-control-equipment; Dust-exposure; Dust-particles; Dusts; Control-technology; Control-methods; Engineering-controls; Respirators; Respiratory-equipment; Respiratory-protective-equipment;
Author Keywords: concrete grinding; construction; crystalline silica dust; dust control methods
Farhang Akbar-Khanzadeh, University of Toledo Health Science Campus, College of Medicine, MS 1027, Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, 3000 Arlington Ave., Toledo, OH 43614