Fugitive dust is the enemy of healthy operations and environments. Defined as small airborne particles of solid material, fugitive dust is released into the atmosphere due to human activities – and it’s everywhere.

Keeping the human element in mind, many of our projects cause dust problems, and as you can imagine, the most common are industrial processes like construction, mining, and agriculture.

Fugitive dust particles can be tiny but range in size from a few micrometres to several millimetres and remain suspended in the air for long periods. The potential for these particles to cause environmental and health problems is vast.

For mining and resource workers, activities like digging, blasting, crushing, and grinding of materials such as soil, rocks, and minerals are familiar dust sources. Natural events such as wind erosion and wildfires are also contributors. 

With policies like Environment, Sustainability and Governance (ESG) on the rise, it’s essential for operators to continue monitoring and controlling fugitive dust emissions. In turn, they can minimise their environmental and public health impact.

Are environmental regulations, health and safety concerns or potential profit loss a concern right now?

The Health Impacts of Fugitive Dust: What you Need to Know

Fugitive dust, as with many forms of particulate in the atmosphere, can cause severe and long-lasting health problems.

Particularly when prolonged exposure over time is taken into account.

Here are some of the common health impacts associated with fugitive dust:

  • Respiratory problems: Fugitive dust can irritate the respiratory system and cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure to fugitive dust can also lead to established respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Fugitive dust can enter the bloodstream through the lungs and cause damage to the cardiovascular system. This can increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.
  • Eye irritation: Fugitive dust can irritate the eyes and cause redness, itching, and tearing. Prolonged exposure to fugitive dust can also cause conjunctivitis (pink eye).
  • Skin irritation: Fugitive dust can irritate the skin and cause itching, redness, and rashes. Lengthy exposure to fugitive dust can also cause skin allergies.
  • Neurological problems: Fugitive dust can contain heavy metals and other toxic substances affecting the nervous system. This can lead to headaches, dizziness, and other neurological problems.
  • Cancer: Fugitive dust can contain carcinogenic substances such as asbestos, silica, and diesel exhaust particles. Prolonged exposure to these substances can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other types of cancer.

Fugitive Dust Affects our Environment

Dust is responsible for a range of environmental impacts.

And surprisingly enough, just because it’s generated from the Earth doesn’t mean it’s part of a healthy ecosystem

If air pollution can affect the health of humans, then it can also impact the broader environment and wildlife.

Here are some of the main concerns we haven’t covered yet:

  • Water pollution: Fugitive dust can contaminate local water sources by depositing pollutants and other contaminants. This can harm aquatic wildlife and make water sources unfit for human consumption.
  • Damage to vegetation: Dust can damage vegetation by covering plants with a layer of dust, blocking sunlight and reducing the plant’s ability to photosynthesise. This can lead to reduced crop yields and lower biodiversity in affected areas.
  • Damage to infrastructure: Fugitive dust can damage infrastructure like roads, buildings, and bridges by causing corrosion and abrasion. This often leads to increased maintenance costs and shortens the lifespan of infrastructure

Solutions for Fugitive Dust Control

Global Road Technology (GRT) is committed to providing better roads, industries and communities through cutting-edge dust control techniques.

GRT’s products are designed to perform in harsh environments and have the power to control dust, not just reduce it. 

For a full rundown of GRT’s Australian-owned product line and to find the one best suited to your application, visit our Dust control solutions page! 

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