Health Effects Of Sanding Dust
It is critical that the dust generated during the floor sanding be effectively controlled. This is not just because of the mess that could result- with the particles coating the different surfaces- from the furnishings, to the electronics, shelves, closets, getting into the plumbing work and even into the vents and ducting. The fine dust particles that remain suspended in the air pose a real to the health of the building’s occupants.
The wood itself
First, wood particles that are broken down during the sanding are irritants. They affect the eyes, nose and throat, and even the skin. Both workers and the building’s occupants can experience issues like dryness, shortness of breath and sore throats. Conjunctivitis may also occur, which is the inflammation of the mucous membranes of one’s eyes. A runny nose, constant coughing and sneezing- these will be triggered by the dust. Dermatitis is occasioned by the chemicals that are in the wood, where the skin becomes itchy, red, dry and may even blister with excess exposure- which is one of the concerns associated with DIY floor sanding. All those hours spent on the job, sweating in the dust-filled room, will be detrimental. Once they get to the lungs, allergic reactions like hypersensitivity pneumonitis may occur, which is when the walls of the air spaces and airways get inflamed. This tends to be confused with flu symptoms as it presents itself with chills, headaches, nausea, sweating and the occasional breathlessness. The hypersensitivity pneumonitis may occur in just a few hours, or even days after the exposure. The breathlessness and tightness of the chest that occurs may be severe, with the conditioning worsening with continued exposure. Some of the hypersensitivity pneumonitis conditions are attributed to the mould growths that may have been in the wood. Those abrasive tiny particles cause scarring, which is permanent damage that reduces one’s lung capacity.
The dust is also carcinogenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has stated that the dust leads to various kinds of cancer, from that of the nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses (spaces that are in and around the nasal cavity), all through to the nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat, and behind the nose). The contractors carrying out the task can be at a great risk since they will encounter dust on a routine basis, hence they have an incentive of employing dustless floor sanding processes during their jobs.
Toxic effects vary with the different wood species. Once the chemicals in the wood are absorbed into the body- which can be through the lungs, skin or even the digestive system, there will be varying effects. Health effects of common types of wood range from allergic contact dermatitis, lung function, and eye irritation with Cedar, dermatitis from dust when sanding Teak- which is also a sensitizer (increasing one’s susceptibility to the reactions), skin irritation with Pine, Spruce and Walnut wood species, irritant dermatitis with Birch, rhinitis with Maple, all through to nasal cancer from Oak.
Chemicals sanded off the surface
What of the old treatments that are actually being removed? The lacquers, varnishes, wood stains, sealants and other products that had been applied to the surface get mixed with the sanding dust. This is a cocktail of chemicals, which will lead to different health effects once it gets into the body system.
Controlling exposure to sanding dust
Since there is no escaping the fact that dust will be generated, focus shifts to ensuring that it will be effectively controlled. This is why you see many sanders that are available for rent coming with components such as dust bags, to pick up the particles. While this does help, it is not as efficient as desired, as there will still be particles – both coarse and fine, escaping into the environment. As such, professional floor sanding companies go a step further to invest in dustless sanding systems.
The dustless floor sanding process kicks things up a notch. Here, high-powered vacuums are connected to the sanding machinery via a system of hoses. The suction that is involved picks up the dust particles the moment they are ground up from the floor. Instead of being housed in dust bags on the sander like the rental machinery, here the dust is immediately directed off to containment units that are off the property. Truck-mounted machinery provides the power needed for the entire process. The dustless floor sanding is so effective, that it eliminates over 99% of the particles, taking away the mess involved with the process, and protecting the indoor air space. This approach also reduces the risk of fire incidences, which is key given that the sanding dust is highly combustible. The dustless floor sanding system ensures safe disposal of the particles, thus protecting your property.
When hiring a contractor to work on your floor, there are a couple of issues that you will want to be clear. For starters, is the company insured? Accidents happen, even amongst the most professional floor sanding companies. Getting protection from liabilities is key, otherwise you will end up footing hefty repair bills out of your pocket. Ask about the training and experience of the personnel who will be sent to work on your property. After all, you want to be sure that your floor is in the hands of experts, for a quality job to be carried out. When it comes to the costs, it’s advisable to avoid both extremes: too cheap and too expensive services. For those offering rock-bottom prices, it means that there have been shortcuts taken along the way, putting your installation, the success of the project, and the safety of everything involved on the line. On the other hand, you don’t need to break the bank to get your floor worked on. A reasonable price a detailed quotation showing exactly what is being paid for, will enable you to determine if you’re getting value for your money. Do they offer a guarantee for the services rendered? What policy is in place in case you’re not satisfied with the work that is carried out? Getting these clarified at the onset will prevent many headaches down the road.