Whenever you work on a project that requires cutting, grinding or chipping concrete, you will make concrete dust. The primary ingredient of concrete dust is crystalline silica. According to Amicus, "For many years, it has been known that breathing in fine dust containing crystalline silica can cause lung damage (silicosis)." Silicosis has been linked to some forms of lung cancer. Although these studies relate to long-term exposures, avoid breathing concrete dust altogether.
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Reduce the amount of dust created during any concrete project by using machinery specifically designed to remove the dust as it is created, and collect the dust for disposal afterward. Two methods control the dust as it is created: dry and wet.
The dry method employs a vacuum system; a nozzle is placed within 2 inches of the cutting or grinding head. According to Lifelast, "Dust removal can be done with the use of a vacuum system that has a suction power of 80 psi or more." Rent cutting and grinding machines with vacuum collection systems attached. Usually you will have to rent a separate apparatus.
The wet method uses water at the cutting or grinding head. This method is best, because the water captures 100 percent of the created dust. The water must be constantly extracted from the concrete surface during cutting or grinding. The best wet systems recycle the used water. A vacuum extracts the water from the floor; the used water passes through a filter, and is returned to the cutting or grinding head. But in some situations, you cannot use this method.
No matter which dust reduction method you use, dust or residue will be left on the concrete surface when you finish. If you are working indoors, dust will fall on all of the interior surfaces of that room as well. You must clean these surfaces before you clean the floor. The particles in concrete dust are very fine; simply vacuuming will not remove it all. Use a liquid to remove all of the dust. Dilute 12 ounces of hydrogen peroxide in 1 gallon of water and use soft cotton rags to wipe the surfaces. Water alone doesn't pick up all of the particles and requires multiple cleanings; this solution actually suspends the particles, and makes it easier for the rag to absorb them.
Always wear a mask or respirator when cutting or grinding concrete, and always wear gloves when cleaning with the hydrogen peroxide solution.
Fred Howe, a writer since 2009, holds a B.S. in sociology from George Fox University. A retired correctional officer from Pelican Bay State Prison in California, Howe has also worked as a sous chef and catering manager.