Researchers have warned of potentially harmful ‘ultrafine’ particles of dust when undertaking building activities.
The team at the University of Surrey found peak concentrations of such particles reach up to 4,000 times local background levels, putting people at risk of serious cardiovascular and respiratory system related diseases.
It claims construction workers face the biggest threat, while homeowners carrying out DIY also put themselves in danger.
Protection at all time
Ultrafine particles penetrate deeper into the lungs, causing a greater amount of damage.
Some of the most harmful particles are invisible to the naked eye, meaning just because no dust can be seen in the air, it does not mean there is no dust there. Researchers recommend taking precautions at all times.
Author Dr Prashant Kumar says the negative effect of dust on health should never be underestimated.
Call to arms
The researchers found the greatest particle emissions occurred during wall chasing – cutting grooves into a wall using an electrical tool to lay electrical cables, for example.
Dr Kumar is calling for more regulatory guidelines to protect both construction workers and the general public, who have the potential to breathe in harmful dust particles including silicon, copper and aluminium.
Silica dust can cause damage to the lungs. Exposure can led to a condition known as silicosis, which results in the thickening and scarring of the organ tissue.
Like other lung diseases, symptoms include shortness of breath, tiredness and a severe cough.
Source: University of Surrey
Date Published: August 20, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown