Risks of Poor Dust Control
We have heard a lot of reasons that coal dust and other dust is hazardous to our heath. It can cause serious lung problems immediately or problems that manifest themselves decades in the future. Immediate problems can include coughing, wheezing, worsening of asthma, increased need for medications, and increased breathlessness. In the long term, exposure to dust from mines or similar construction areas can cause an increase in hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and even death from heart or lung diseases. Those working specifically in the mines are not the only ones who are susceptible to these problems. In fact, infants, children, adolescents, and the elderly, who usually are only residents near the mines, are all highly susceptible, as well as those with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, as well as those with heart disease and diabetes. For those who are only located near the mines, try to keep windows and doors closed, and those who have asthma should try to avoid outdoor activities at times when dust levels are noticeably high. But, if the mines are operating with proper dust controls, it is unlikely a healthy adult resident would suffer any serious health effect from the dust.
As mentioned, these health problems are not the only problems caused by the dust. Coal dust can also lead to coal dust explosions. There are four necessary conditions for a dust explosion to occur: combustible dust must be present, the dust must be suspended in the air at a high concentration, there has to be an oxidant, which is typically atmospheric oxygen, and there must be an ignition source. Coal, sawdust, and magnesium are three of the most common causes of combustible dust, but other mundane materials such as grain, flour, sugar, powdered milk, and pollen can also lead to dangerous dust clouds.
Powdered metals like aluminum and titanium can form explosive suspensions in the air as well. These items can be ignited by electrostatic discharge, friction, arcing from machinery or other equipment, hot surfaces included overheated bearings, and fire. These sort of explosions are most frequently found in underground coal mines, which is why mine dust control is such a high priority. The market for dust control equipment includes mineral mines, coal mine, stone quarries, asphalt plants, coal-fired power plants, shipping terminals, grain silos, recycling plants, trash transfer stations, demolition and construction sites.