Monthly Archives: September 2017

How the Lungs and Respiratory System Work

You usually don’t even notice it, but twelve to twenty times per minute, day after day, you breathe — thanks to your body’s respiratory system. Your lungsexpand and contract, supplying life-sustaining oxygen to your body and removing from it, a waste product called carbon dioxide.

The Act of Breathing

Breathing starts at the nose and mouth. You inhale air into your nose or mouth, and it travels down the back of your throat and into your windpipe, or trachea. Your trachea then divides into air passages called bronchial tubes.

For your lungs to perform their best, these airways need to be open during inhalation and exhalation and free from inflammation or swelling and excess or abnormal amounts of mucus.

The LungsAs the bronchial tubes pass through the lungs, they divide into smaller air passages called bronchioles. The bronchioles end in tiny balloon-like air sacs called alveoli. Your body has over 300 million alveoli.

The alveoli are surrounded by a mesh of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Here, oxygen from the inhaled air passes through the alveoli walls and into the blood.

After absorbing oxygen, the blood leaves the lungs and is carried to your heart. Your heart then pumps it through your body to provide oxygen to the cells of your tissues and organs.

As the cells use the oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced and absorbed into the blood. Your blood then carries the carbon dioxide back to your lungs, where it is removed from the body when you exhale.

The Diaphragm’s Role in Breathing

Inhalation and exhalation are the processes by which the body brings in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide. The breathing process is aided by a large dome-shaped muscle under the lungs called the diaphragm.

When you breathe in, the diaphragm contracts downward, creating a vacuum that causes a rush of fresh air into the lungs.

The opposite occurs with exhalation, where the diaphragm relaxes upwards, pushing on the lungs, allowing them to deflate.

Clearing the Air

The respiratory system has built-in methods to prevent harmful substances in the air from entering the lungs.

Respiratory SystemHairs in your nose help filter out large particles. Microscopic hairs, called cilia, are found along your air passages and move in a sweeping motion to keep the air passages clean. But if harmful substances, such as cigarette smoke, are inhaled, the cilia stop functioning properly, causing health problems like bronchitis.

Mucus produced by cells in the trachea and bronchial tubes keeps air passages moist and aids in stopping dust, bacteria and viruses, allergy-causing substances, and other substances from entering the lungs.

Impurities that do reach the deeper parts of the lungs can often be moved up via mucous and coughed out or swallowed.


Source – WebMD

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.


How To Use A Fire Extinguisher

Have a look at this tutorial and learn how to use a fire extinguisher…


fire extinguisher is an active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires, often in emergency situations. It is not intended for use on an out-of-control fire, such as one which has reached the ceiling, endangers the user (i.e., no escape route, smoke, explosion hazard, etc.), or otherwise requires the expertise of a fire department. Typically, a fire extinguisher consists of a hand-held cylindrical pressure vessel containing an agent which can be discharged to extinguish a fire. Fire extinguishers manufactured with non-cylindrical pressure vessels also exist, but are less common.

A stored-pressure fire extinguisher made by Oval Brand Fire Products

In the United States, fire extinguishers in all buildings other than houses are generally required to be serviced and inspected by a fire protection service company at least annually. Some jurisdictions require more frequent service for fire extinguishers. The servicer places a tag on the extinguisher to indicate the type of service performed (annual inspection, recharge, new fire extinguisher).

A British fire extinguisher with ID sign, call point and fire action sign

There are two main types of fire extinguishers: stored-pressure and cartridge-operated. In stored pressure units, the expellant is stored in the same chamber as the firefighting agent itself. Depending on the agent used, different propellants are used. With dry chemical extinguishers, nitrogen is typically used; water and foam extinguishers typically use air. Stored pressure fire extinguishers are the most common type. Cartridge-operated extinguishers contain the expellant gas in a separate cartridge that is punctured prior to discharge, exposing the propellant to the extinguishing agent. This type is not as common, used primarily in areas such as industrial facilities, where they receive higher-than-average use. They have the advantage of simple and prompt recharge, allowing an operator to discharge the extinguisher, recharge it, and return to the fire in a reasonable amount of time. Unlike stored pressure types, these extinguishers use compressed carbon dioxide instead of nitrogen, although nitrogen cartridges are used on low temperature (-60 rated) models. Cartridge operated extinguishers are available in dry chemical and dry powder types in the U.S. and in water, wetting agent, foam, dry chemical (classes ABC and B.C.), and dry powder (class D) types in the rest of the world.

Wheeled fire extinguisher and a sign inside a parking lot

Fire extinguishers are further divided into handheld and cart-mounted (also called wheeled extinguishers). Handheld extinguishers weigh from 0.5 to 14 kilograms (1.1 to 30.9 lb), and are hence, easily portable by hand. Cart-mounted units typically weigh more than 23 kilograms (51 lb). These wheeled models are most commonly found at construction sites, airport runways, heliports, as well as docks and marinas.

Source – Wikipedia

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

The most toxic town in USA,

Picher, Oklahoma: The most toxic town in USA, which was deliberately left to Nature

Featured image

The ghost town of Picher is located in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, United States of America. The town was founded in the days when the United States entered into World War I. Picher, situated at the middle of the Tri-State Mining District, an area covering more than 2500 square miles in southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma, became a leading national center of the lead and zinc mining industry.

In September 2009, the year after the town was struck by an EF4 rated tornado, the residents of Pitcher left the town. But the tornado wasn’t the main reason why this once thriving community became completely deserted, although it took eight lives and damaged 150 houses. The real problem was, and still is, the lead and other heavy metals in the drinking water and the soil. The Environmental Protection Agency of USA categorized the small town of Picher as the most toxic town in America.

The birth of Picher was in 1913, during the growth of the Tri-State mining district, when Harry Crawfish staked a claim to the lead and zinc ore at this location. A flourishing community started to grow literally overnight around the new mines and soon developed into a new town, which was incorporated as a municipality in March 1918. It was named Picher after O. S. Picher, the owner of Picher Lead Company.

The wartime demand for metal production was answered by the Tri-State district. During World War I more than fifty percent of the zinc and metal used in the war was produced by the Picher district, and during both World Wars combined, 75 percent of all the bullets and bombshells used by American soldiers were produced from metals mined in the region.  Before the discovering of zinc in the area around Picher, Germany had monopoly of the zinc industry, because they controlled the zinc mines in Belgium.

The population of Picher kept on growing, from 9000 inhabitants in 1920 to approximately 14,ooo at it’s peak population in 1926. The mines employed 14,000 miners plus another 4000 people working in mining services. Many workers came to work in Picher from the near towns, but also from as far away towns as Joplin, Missouri and Carthage. Production fell throughout the 1930s as the Great Depression swept the country meaning that many employees were laid off and people started to leave the town, but World War II brought Picher another boom.

By 1967 the mining came to an end and so water pumping from the mines ended. The contaminated water left behind in approximately 14000 abandoned mine shafts, 70 millions of mine crushed rocks and 36 million tons of mill sand and mud became a huge environmental problem. Many man-made mountains of mining waste, known as chat piles, formed of crushed limestone, dolomite and silica-laden sedimentary rock and about 300 feet high had accumulated after the years of extracting the metal ore.

The town in the 1970s had nearly 2000 inhabitants and the chat piles became an essential part of the town’s culture. People would go onto the chat piles for picnic and kids were biking on them. But, at the end of the 1970’s they started to realize that their health was in danger.  Pollution from heavy metals from the chat piles became apparent. Waters began running red and people started to get sick very often. The town slowly became hazardous.

It was also discovered that because of years of unregulated mining operations, numerous large tunnels had been carved under the town. Sinkholes started to appear as mines were abandoned leaving many of the town’s structures unstable. Officials realized that the safety of the inhabitants couldn’t be guaranteed. They determined that 86 percent of town’s structures were dangerously eroded and the town was at risk of collapse at any time.

Source – Abandoned Spaces

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Communities left to choke on legacy of bad mining practice

JOHANNESBURG – When Rose Plaatjies, 63, was moved to Riverlea Extension 1, Johannesburg, about 40 years ago by the apartheid government, she had no idea the deadly chemicals from mines in the area would make her terminally ill.

Plaatjies, who requires an oxygen machine for up to 16 hours a day to stay alive, is among thousands of Johannesburg residents who suffer from respiratory infections as a result of mining, according to a report released by the Bench Marks Foundation.

“The toxic dust is the truth. My lungs can’t help me to breathe any more. “Our children have eczema and eye problems and they are born with disorders,” Plaatjies told journalists this week. Plaatjies was speaking in Riverlea during the launch of the Bench Marks Foundation report titled Waiting to Inhale, focused on four mine-affected communities, Riverlea, Diepkloof, Meadowlands and Doornkop.

The report found that 56.1percent of Soweto residents had identified sinus, asthma and tuberculosis as their most persistent ailments, with 4percent saying they suffered from eye problems. David van Wyk, lead researcher for Bench Marks, the non-profit, faith-based organisation owned by the churches in South Africa, said the situation was dire due to acid mine drainage.

Van Wyk charged that acid mine drainage was the result of over a century of abusive mining practice which had become a real threat to the wellbeing of residents. “The government should stop putting poor people in an unsafe and unhealthy environment.” He said that acid mine drainage severely degraded water quality, killed aquatic life and made water virtually unusable. “Mining, by its very nature consumes, diverts and can seriously pollute water, air and soil resources.

“Negative impacts can vary from sedimentation caused by poorly built roads during exploration to the disturbance of water during mining construction.” The study said that Soweto was in a basin to the south and south-west of Johannesburg and was directly below the mines of the central rand – from Langlaagte and Crown Mines in the east through to Durban Roodepoort Deep and Doornkop in the west.

Riverlea Community Forum representative, Reece Rosenberg, believed that working with Bench Marks would help the affected communities find alternative ways to improve their living conditions. Rosenberg said the government had forced the health-hazard mining operation on the community. “We are covered with dust and we live with that on a daily basis. “Clinics cannot cope with the amount of people going there will all these illness.”

This year the Bench Mark Foundation marks 10 years of reporting on the impact of mining on near-mine communities on the platinum belt in the North West and Limpopo, the diamond fields along the west coast of South Africa, and the coal fields in Mpumalanga.

Communities left to choke on legacy of bad mining practice – Source – IOL

Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.


Durban dust-up: Family trusts sue local factory for R9m in damages

Durban – The large warehouse in Prospecton, an industrial area outside of Durban’s CBD, appears old and rusting.

In fact, it was built a mere five years ago. Its condition, its owners say, is due to continuous wafts of black ferrous dust from a neighbouring crushing plant which is chasing away prospective tenants and, possibly, impacting on the health of workers there.

Now the owners – three family trusts – are suing The New Reclamation Group for R9m in damages, and asking a high court judge to grant an interdict to stop any future “dust nuisance”.

They have also cited the eThekwini Municipality and the MEC for environmental affairs in the court action, seeking an order that they intervene and enforce compliance with environmental legislation.

 Durban dust-up: Family trusts sue local factory for R9m in damages
According to its owners, the 5-year-old warehouse has become a potential health hazard due to continuous wafts of black ferrous dust from a neighbouring crushing plant. (Supplied)

One of the owners, Shaukat Moosa, told News24 that he had tried to resolve the issue out of court.

“We said, let’s get experts in and find a way to abate this… They said they were getting in some machinery to absorb the dust, but nothing changed.

“We now have no alternative but to issue the summons and get the City and the department involved to do a full investigation,” he said.

He said that crushing carried on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We had tenants – a stationery company – who left because their stock was being messed up. The dust settles everywhere.

‘Even the inside of the pipes are rusty’

“If you look at the building, it looks 30 years old. It looks rusty, and even the inside of the pipes are rusty.

“The dust that comes from there has got ferrous iron in it. When it comes into contact with steel, it makes rust,” Moosa said.

He said their expert, Andrew Simpson, had done tests and had reported that the iron content significantly exceeded the dustfall standard set out in the applicable legislation.

Moosa said he had recently lost a tenant who wanted to use the warehouse for cold storage.

“They [the workers at the crushing plant] wear masks. I don’t know what the health effect is on us, or on people living nearby in Merebank and Merewent.”

According to the summons, a meeting was held on site in November 2014 where, it is alleged, the company acknowledged that an estimated 10% of the end product of the recycling process constituted dust.

The damages sought are to fix up the warehouse, to compensate for loss of rental income, and for damages to stored stock.

The company did not respond to a repeated request for comment.

Source – News24