[Exposure to silica dust in the Polish construction industry].Med Pr. 2006; 57(5):405-13.MP
In the construction industry, free crystalline silica (FCS), mostly in the form of quartz, is in a very common use. Construction, especially repair and demolition works, are associated with emission of considerable amounts of FCS-containing dusts. Studies concerning the work environment, carried out recently in other countries, indicate that exposure to quartz frequently exceeds hygiene standards, i.e. safety limits for workers' health. The aim of this study was to assess dust exposure of workers employed at selected workposts in the construction industry in Poland.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
The Polish study was performed in a group of workers employed in large and small enterprises and involved in establishing new constructions and demolishing old buildings. The group comprised 43 workers, employed at 9 workposts, who underwent 107 measurements of dust concentrations, of which 78 measurements were included in the analysis. At each workpost, concentrations of inhalable and respirable dusts were measured with the filtration and gravimetric method. Individual dust dosimeters were used to collect air samples and infrared spectrometry to determine concentrations of FCS dusts in samples of inhalable and respirable dusts. An identification analysis of dust samples was performed with use of X-ray diffraction.
The results of the study show that geometric means of inhalable dust concentrations fell within a wide range from 2.1 (concrete mixer operator, plasterer) to 66.0 mg/m3 (laborer engaged in hand demolition), and those of respirable dust at the same workposts ranged from 0.4 to 16.2 mg/m3, respectively. Quartz was present in the majority of construction materials applied, and its concentration in inhalable dusts ranged from 7 to 13 mg/m3.
It was found that dust concentrations exceeded hygiene standards at most of the workposts. Particularly high concentrations were observed at the workposts of surface abrasive grinders-coat finishers and workers engaged in drilling and hammering wholes. In conclusion, the need to use technical means, primarily personal respiratory protectors, to reduce dust concentrations should be strongly stressed.