Lesson 4 Dusts

  • Another typical hazard present in a workplace environment are dusts.
  • What they can do to your health include mechanical damage to skin or mucosa membranes of your body, allergies, pneumoconiosis or neoplasms.
  • This all depends on the character of dust and time of exposure.
  • Dust are simply very small particles of matter, which can remain suspended in air for a certain time.
  • The origin of dust can be variable: biological (e.g. plants or animals), or chemical (e.g. silica dust, asbestos, man made mineral fibres).
  • During your work as a cleaner you may encounter dusts while e.g. brushing pavements, emptying dustbins, moving objects with dusts on their surfaces.
  • Inhalation. Depending on the size of dust particles, they can enter your mouth and nose and be caught in nose, mouth, throat or upper respiratory tract, or if they are small enough, they can travel further, to lungs. Possible health effect include pneumoconiosis, fibrosis, silicosis, lung cancer, extrinsic allergic alveolitis.
  • Skin contact. While contacting your skin, some dusts may cause health problems like dermatitis (e.g. wood dust or fiberglass).
  • Eye contact. In case dust contacts your eyes, it can be a source of irritation or mechanical damage of tissue.
  • Ingestion. When dust particles are blocked by mucus in your mouth or throat, it can happen that they are swallowed, causing e.g. gastrointestinal tract irritation. Poor hygienic practice (not washing hands) may result in allowing dust particles to enter the organism through hand-to-mouth contact.