Dust created when cutting concrete can have mild to severe health consequences depending on the extent of exposure. These health consequences may include:
– Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
– Emphysema or Lung Cancer
– Other acute or chronic respiratory, pulmonary or cardiovascular conditions.
Measures should therefore always be taken to control dust when cutting concrete and to minimize exposure. The following two methods are the most successful:
- Wet Cutting
The use of water while cutting concrete is a very effective means of minimizing dust emissions. There are different methods that are used to employ wet cutting techniques:
– Water is showered onto the rotating cutting blade while in use.
– Water can be pumped directly onto the cutting area while the saw is in operation.
– Water jets can be released over the general area to reduce dust.
– Water can be sprayed in the air to cause concrete dust to settle quickly.
Pressurized water tanks are necessary in most of these techniques. A ratio of 1/2 a liter of water per minute is considered the standard or ideal rate of release to reduce dust emissions. Increased rates have not been found to be more effective.
Portable tanks hold around 8 liters of water and are therefor effective for a period of 16 minutes of cutting when the tanks will need to be refilled. These are not ideal for use in all types of constructions settings.
- Safety Gear
There are statutory regulations that control the safety measures that need to be taken in order to reduce the risks associated with dust from cutting concrete. These normally involve the provision of safety gear. Safety gear should include:
– Breathing masks for the concrete cutting saw operator as well as any other workers or person’s in the area. It is important to select a mask that is specifically designed to provide protection against concrete dust. Also be aware that mask filters will become blocked after a specific period of time and will need to be replaced regularly when performing concrete cutting for an extended period of time.
– Protective goggles are essential to prevent dust emissions from entering the eyes. This can result in mild irritation but could also damage the eye.
Employing both wet concrete cutting techniques as well as using the necessary safety and protective gear in conjunction with one another will provide the greatest level of dust control.