When it comes to concerns over construction safety, it is not always the workers who need to be careful. Construction dust can occur in any situation, and many work sites use water to keep dust at a minimum. But there are instances when it is not always practical or possible to use water, and that can create health problems such as lung disease for workers and surrounding residents.
Rise In Construction Leads To More Construction Dust
According to the New York Building Congress, $39 billion was spent on new construction projects and building restorations and renovations throughout New York City in 2015. That number is expected to rise dramatically in 2016, which means there is a lot of work going on. The key to a successful job is when the workers and supervisors follow all of the construction safety rules that apply to their project. But, what is being done about protecting the public?
If you have ever walked by a construction site, you may notice water being sprayed on the clouds of dust and the
workers wearing protective masks. But what about the people who live or work near that construction site? People need to understand the dangers of construction dust to be able to properly protect themselves from lung disease and other potential health problems.
How Dust Affects The Lungs
The human lungs are amazing natural filters that can help to keep out a variety of harmful substances. The first line of defense is what we call nose hairs. The nose filters out larger pieces of dust and bacteria that we get rid of when we blow our nose. The walls of the tubes leading to the lungs are lined with mucus that acts as the second line of defense from dust and debris. When the mucus captures particles, it is released when we spit out the mucus or swallow it.
Inside the lungs are small sacks that are also protected by a variety of hairs and filters. The lungs are also capable of releasing bacteria to protect them from potential diseases and other invaders. All in all, your lungs are very adept at protecting themselves from problems. However, the fine particles that make up construction dust can often get past all of those defenses, and that is where the problems begin.
Protecting Surrounding Residents
The New York Times published a letter from the tenant of a building who stated that they were starting to feel the effects of the dust that was flying around because of the work being done to replace the old mortar in the building’s bricks. The letter and the answer from the Times, point out a few extremely important aspects of construction dust that all New Yorkers need to be aware of.
The person who wrote the letter indicated that they were healthy, and were concerned about the tightness in their chest and other effects of the dust. The truth is that construction dust can affect anyone, regardless of their current health situation. Construction dust can create short and long-term breathing issues, and it can also create serious health issues for infants, elderly residents and people who already have respiratory problems.
Another interesting element of the letter is the mere idea that there is a renovation project going on in a residential building and every precaution is not being taken to protect the residents. As mentioned earlier, health problems from construction dust are just as dangerous to the public as they are to the workers. Residents need to speak up if they feel that the construction dust in a project is not being controlled properly if they want to protect their health.
Possible Health Problems Due To Prolonged Exposure
Persistent exposure to construction dust can cause problems such as coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness and tightness in the chest. Anyone feeling these types of effects when exposed to construction dust should see a doctor immediately, and make the potential health problems known to the people in charge of the project.
The other problem that comes from construction dust, especially in the renovation of old buildings, is the possibility of releasing hazardous materials. Most of the dust is made of silica, but many old buildings still have asbestos that could create even bigger problems with exposure to residents or workers.
The simple truth is that nothing good can come from inhaling this kind of dust for long periods of time. Workers and civilians who are exposed to construction dust without any form of protection need to speak up and call attention to the matter before they develop health problems that could last the rest of their lives.