Over-Accumulation of Ultra Fine Particulate: Health Effects & Dangers

Particulate containment – it’s good housekeeping

There are a lot of good reasons to have a clean work environment and most of them are related to the health hazards of dust, powders and particulates created by work processes.

For one, particles can be damaging to human lungs. Also, heavy accumulation of particles can become explosive. This blog addresses the role Sentry’s Air powder containment products can play in maintaining worker health and safety.

Breathing Fine Particles: Health Effects
Healthy lungs in a transparent human torso. In a chapter on powder hazards in Fundamentals of Particle Technology,1 the author provides a diagram of the human respiratory tract and relates the size of particles to specific portions of the respiratory tract.In the trachea portion, for example, cilia catch foreign bodies of 760 microns and greater (particles the size of coarse sand) to move them up to the throat to be coughed or sneezed out.

Deeper in the system, the lung’s sac-like alveoli cannot accommodate particles greater than 2 microns; viruses, tobacco smoke and metal fumes can all be smaller than 2 microns.

Unfortunately, “particles which penetrate this deeply into the respiratory system are generally beyond the body’s natural clearance mechanisms of cilia and mucous and are more likely to be retained and be harmful.”2

Why? “Ultrafine particles seem to have the unexplained ability to rapidly penetrate cells throughout the body and impair many cellular functions.”3

Dust dangers

Another reason to keep particulate matter from circulating throughout the workspace is that dust can be combustible.

Left uncontained, particles can accumulate on floors, beams, piping, ductwork, equipment, suspended ceilings – even walls, where it can be dislodged.

Experts have constructed mathematical formulas that utilize the area (square footage) of a defined work space and the depth of accumulated dust within that area to determine if a flash fire hazard exists.5

Published standards for the prevention of fire and dust explosions discuss a systemized approach to alleviating dust dangers that is a “combination of equipment designed to contain, capture, pneumatically convey, collect, and filter airborne dusts.”5

Recommended aspects of that approach are devices designed to contain, collect, and control airborne dusts.5

Capture particles at the source

Many industrial and manufacturing processes create particles when they grind, heat, cut, mix or weld the components that make up their products.6

Capturing particles as they are created, before they spread throughout the work place, is good housekeeping that is good for one’s health.

Source capture containment units

Sentry Air designs and manufactures units that capture and contain particulate matter at the source.

A portable powder contained unit pulls dust clouds away from a worker's breathing zone.

This portable powder containment unit (SS-400-PFS Sentry Air Portable Floor Sentry) pulls particulates away from the worker and can be optioned with filters designed to contain both particulate matter and fumes, capturing dust and making mixing and repackaging cleaner and safer.

Sentry Air’s Ducted Exhaust Hoods are designed for applications that must be connected to an exterior exhaust system and can be optioned in ESD-safe materials.

Sentry Air’s Ducted Exhaust Hoods are designed for applications that must be connected to an exterior exhaust system and can be optioned in ESD-safe materials.

Grinding operations create dust and uncontrolled welding smoke can cause metal fume fever. Our heavy duty industrial welding fume extractor, the portable SS-500-PFS-MP1, is equipped with Micro-Pleat Series 1 Particulate Filters that can be cleaned with pressurized air and is easily moved from work station to work station.

Grinding operations create dust and uncontrolled welding smoke can cause metal fume fever. Our heavy duty industrial welding fume extractor, the portable SS-500-PFS-MP1, is equipped with Micro-Pleat Series 1 Particulate Filters that can be cleaned with pressurized air and is easily moved from work station to work station.

Our hoses and particle-capturing HEPA filters are flame resistant, as shown in the video below.

Our hoses and particle-capturing HEPA filters are flame resistant, as shown in the video linked below.

Link to Flex Arm & HEPA Filter Fire Tests, a Sentry Air Systems video on youtube.

WARNING: Source-capture particle collection is only one aspect of safety plans that are put in place for particulate containment. Because the threat of explosion is present in many particulate-producing applications, Industrial Hygienists and/or Safety Managers should always be consulted when creating safety engineering controls for these situations.

For information on source-capture options for your operations, give us a call at 1.800.799.4609, email us at sales@sentryair.com, or fill out this online form to have a Sentry Air Systems Applications Specialist contact you to discuss your application.

RESOURCES

1Fundamentals of Particle Technology
http://www.particles.org.uk/particle_technology_book/particle_book.htm

2Mine Safety and Health Administration document, Introduction to Operator Air Sampling Programs
http://www.msha.gov/S&HINFO/OPRSAMP/OPRSAMP.HTM

3Particles: Size Makes All the Difference
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/assets/docs_a_e/ehp_student_edition_lesson_particles_size_makes_all_the_difference.pdf

55Committee On Handling and Conveying Of Dusts, Vapors, and Gases, September 2011
http://www.nfpa.org/Assets/files/AboutTheCodes/654/CMD-HAP_%20ROCagenda_9-11.pdf

6OSHA Combustible Dust poster
http://www.osha.gov/Publications/combustibledustposter.pdf

Ultrafine Particles Cross Cellular Membranes by Nonphagocytic Mechanisms in Lungs and in Cultured Cells
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1310918/