Category Archives: News

Mountain Research LLC


DustWatch has partnered with Mountain Research, LLC in the USA. DustWatch single bucket ASTM D1739 (2017) units will be manufactured in the USA for distribution purposes within the USA and other countries.

Mountain Research LLC

Mountain Research, LLC (Mountain Research) is a full service turnkey environmental and drilling services corporation founded in 1985. DustWatch is excited to partner with Mountain Research, please visit their website for more information

If you need to make use of the expertise from Mountain Research in South Africa, then you can contact

Mountain Research


Drilling Services
Mountain Research offers the latest technology in environmental and geotechnical drilling services for site investigation, remediation, foundation design and construction. Our drilling rigs include a Geoprobe® Model 6600 and a Geoprobe® Model 5400. We recently added an Acker® Soil-Scout, increasing the capabilities of our fleet.

Mountain Research also uses a ChemGrout® Model CG555 multi-purpose grouting machine for monitoring well abandonment in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements.

Mountain Research’s drilling personnel hold certifications for states within the Mid-Atlantic region for drilling and installation of monitoring wells. All drilling personnel and inspectors meet the requirements set forth by OSHA 29 CFR 1910.120 and have completed the required 40 hour OSHA health and safety course.

Environmental Consulting
Mountain Research provides a wide variety of environmental and engineering services in-house, including owning our own drill rigs and environmental laboratories supported by our team of professional geologists, professional engineers, environmental scientists and chemists.

Our employees perform Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments, Site Characterizations, Act 2 Closures, Remediation System Construction, Installations, Operation and Maintenance, Underground Storage Tank Services, Air Quality Assessments, Spill Response and Engineering Services throughout the states of Pennsylvania and the rest of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Our expertise is performing our services, quickly, quietly and cost effectively with an eye towards making sure projects are successfully concluded in the best interest of our clients.



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



Chryso are suppliers of emulsified dust lubrication systems that aid in the coalescing, stablisation and suppression of rising dust particles and spores.


DustWatch can provide quotations for this product if required and also provide advice on optimized application for different area requirements. Gravel Roads, Haul Roads, Unpaved open areas, Stockpiles and Berms. On site advice is available for site specific requirements and optimization.

Chryso Eco Dust 200D

Chryso have a range of environmentally friendly products that can be used, and the recommended usage of one of these products, the ECO Dust 200 D, is shown below.

Eco Dust 200 D

The following are typical areas where our product can be used:
Open exposed areas
Gravel roads
Farm roads
Gravel airstrips
Quarry roads
Stockpile dumps
Mine dumps

General Application Guidelines

1 litre of solution per m2 is used to apply the product to the area
Note that the 100% solution works well for sealing a stockpile or an exposed surface, provided the liquid can mix slightly with the top layer of material and be distributed evenly.
A 43% solution also works well to seal off a stockpile or open exposed area, but more quantity of solution is needed per area, but the same amount of product. So that concentration should depend on how much water is needed to make the product bind with the surface layer of the stockpile or exposed surface. Runoff of the product during application should be prevented.
The mixing with the top layer of the surface is required to keep it in place on a sloped surface, and also provides additional stabilisation as the top layer is less likely to slide down.
The use of the product on a road at any percentage requires the surface to be compacted to achieve the mixing with the top layer. Vehicles travelling regularly will achieve this. The smoother the road the better as this prevent pooling of the solution in parts of the road.
When vehicles travel on the road, the whole road should be used, to prevent the middle of the road not being compacted and resulting in loose material.
Planned roadways will enable the product to be used efficiently.
Walkways should also be clearly demarcated to enable exposed areas to remain undisturbed after the application of the product.
Application Method for Regular Maintenance to decrease road dust significantly

Four applications at 15% in one day and one application per day thereafter at 5% solution. Application rate of 1 litre of solution per m2.

Long term application. (30 days or more)

Application of 85% solution at 1 litre per m2. This is a once off application and can last up to 90 days.

Factors that will influence the intervals between maintenance applications and life time of the surface:

Quality of base material
Climate conditions
Volumes and type of traffic


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

Common Mining Equipment

The 3rd article from ThermoFisher’s Top 10 list – Common Mining Equipment.  Have a great day!

Common Mining Equipment

Link to the original article –

New to the Mining Industry? Make Sure You Know the Most Common Types of Mining Equipment
By Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane, Editor

“Working in the mining industry can be a dangerous place if you don’t know what you’re doing. Regular training is essential and understanding the machines you’re working near or operating plays an important role in all aspects of the industry.

Each type of mining equipment comes with its own set of mining activities. The most common types of mining equipment vary depending whether the work is being carried out above or below ground or mining for gold, metals, coal or crude oil. From drilling machines to excavators, crushing and grinding equipment – the mining industry comes complete with all the right tools. New to the job and want to find out what it all means? Here’s a few of the industry’s most common types of equipment and why they’re important for the job.

Mining Drills

Probably one of the most common pieces of mining equipment, drills are an important part of the underground mining operation. Underground mining is carried out when rocks or minerals are located at a fair distance beneath the ground. But then they need to be brought to the surface. Underground specialized mining equipment such as trucks, loaders, diggers etc. are used to excavate the material and are normally hauled to the surface with skips or lifts for further processing. Drilling is normally required to place explosive charges to liberate the minerals from the overburden material. Underground mining techniques have progressed significantly over the past years, including using remote controlled machinery.

Drills assist in creating holes descending underground. If miners are required to work underground, drills can also be used in ensuring the holes are large enough to serve as a portal for miners to enter. Directional drilling is also a type of mining technology where miners will use the tools and certain methods to drill wells.

Blasting Tools

Blasting tools are an essential part of the mining industry and are used to break down and fracture materials (usually rocks) by use of a calculated amount of explosive to liberate the sought-after product from the waste material. Blasting is also used to remove pockets of unwanted material that are preventing mining machines and personnel to get to the seam containing the materials of interest. Unmanned drill rigs will drill holes at pre-determined depths and positions on a blast face to ensure that a particular size fraction is achieved and that little of the overburden is liberated with the blasting to reduce material handling costs. Once this process has been completed, an excavator is used to recover the blasted rocks and other debris that has been dislodged during the blasting. The material is then conveyed to a central conveying system which will take it directly to the surface or via a skip and hoist system.

Blasting equipment is used for both underground and open pit mining operations and is known to be one of the most hazardous aspects of the job.

For mining operations to be successful good blast designs are absolutely vital as poor practices and excessive explosives can result in damage to rock structures causing unwanted caving.

Earth Movers

For above ground mining, earth movers are utilised regularly to carry loose soil and earth from one location to another. Earth movers play an important role in the mining industry because the equipment is specifically designed to work on large earth-moving and mining projects for a faster and more practical process. Used for digging, pushing and transporting the earth, they require the specialised skills of an operator.

Earth movers are heavy mining equipment that the industry would struggle to survive without and work hand in hand with bulldozers. Earth movers are normally used for removing overburden or waste material, which enables the excavators to remove the material or mineral of interest. Bulldozers are used to move this overburden material around to create a working surface for other equipment such as haul trucks and excavators.

Crushing Equipment

As its name suggests, crushing equipment is used to crush rock and stone. Designed to achieve maximum productivity and high reduction rate, mining crushing equipment can come in a variety of different types for a range of jobs.

Crushing equipment is specially configured to break down the hard rock matter or gravel to a manageable size for transportation or conveying. They are valuable pieces of equipment in the industry because they reduce the costs associated with handling of larger sized material and also ensure efficient liberation of elements of interest in downstream processing of the material. In an opencast or strip mining operation, the run of mine (ROM) material is normally transported to the primary crusher by haul trucks, and in underground mining operations it is conveyed to the primary crusher. Crushing equipment is important to the mining process because it reduces the use of precious excavated resources and eliminates the amount of material on site.

Feeding, Conveying, and On-line Elemental Analysis Equipment

Once the excavator transporter brings the raw material to the crusher for processing, the feeding device feeds the material into the crusher and in return the material is screened and all oversized material is recirculated back to the crusher to ensure correct size fraction is obtained. This weighbelt ‘feeding’ equipment, usually referred to as “Weighfeeders,” conveys and controls the feedrate into the crusher to improve crusher efficiency.

Feeding and conveying equipment are necessary to the mining industry to move and control material flow within a mining and processing operation to facilitate efficient operation of equipment and determine operating rates and yields. In some instances secondary crushing is required prior to processing of the material. Once the material is at the correct size, fraction processing can occur which could include, milling, flotation, leaching etc.

Belt scale systems let you monitor production output and inventory, or regulate product loadout, while providing vital information for the effective management and efficient operation of your business. There are elemental crossbelt analyzers that provide real-time quality analysis of critical process streams to facilitate sorting, blending and out-of-seam dilution control. While materials are on the troughed belt conveyor, an automatic sampling system (which could be single or multi-stage) can take a representative sample directly from the moving material stream. (Take a look at this video to see how a sampling system works.) Weighbelt Feeders that convey and control feedrate accurately and reliably can reduce material consumption, help maintain blend consistency, and increase profits.

Flow measurement systems provide continuous, real-time flow measurement of free-falling materials or dense phase, pneumatically conveyed bulk solids, which is important to ensure and maintain product quality and process efficiency.

All these common mining tools are crucial to the industry and assist in getting the job done efficiently and cost effectively.”


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

Fools Gold – Pyrite

The next article from ThermoFishers top 10 list!  Enjoy!

Pyrite - Fools Gold

Link to the original article –

Pyrite: The Real Story Behind “Fool’s Gold”
By Ali Somarin

““Fool’s Gold” is technically known as pyrite or iron sulfide (FeS2) and is one of the most common sulfide minerals. Sulfide minerals are a group of inorganic compounds containing sulfur and one or more elements. Minerals are defined by their chemistry and crystalline structure. Minerals that have the same chemical composition but different crystal structures are called polymorphs.

Pyrite and marcasite, for example, are polymorphs because they are both iron sulfide, but each has a distinct structure. Minerals can also have the same crystalline structure but different elemental compositions, but it’s the crystal structure that determines the mineral’s physical characteristics.

In addition to pyrite, common sulfides are chalcopyrite (copper iron sulfide), pentlandite (nickel iron sulfide), and galena (lead sulfide). The sulfide class also includes the selenides, the tellurides, the arsenides, the antimonides, the bismuthinides, and the sulfosalts. Many sulfides are economically important as metal ores.

Pyrite is called “Fool’s Gold” because it resembles gold to the untrained eye. While pyrite has a brass-yellow color and metallic luster similar to gold, pyrite is brittle and will break rather than bend as gold does. Gold leaves a yellow streak, while pyrite’s streak is brownish black. If you want to know more about how to tell real gold from “Fool’s Gold,” watch this video produced by the University of Knottingham.

Pyrite is so named from the Greek word for fire (pyr) because it can create sparks for starting a fire when struck against metal or stone. This property made it useful for firearms at one time but this application is now obsolete. Pyrite was once a source of sulfur and sulfuric acid, but today most sulfur is obtained as a byproduct of natural gas and crude oil processing.

Today pyrite is sometimes sold as a novelty item or costume jewelry. But pyrite isn’t entirely useless; in fact it’s a good way to find real gold because the two form together under similar conditions. Gold can even occur as inclusions inside pyrite, sometimes in mineable quantities depending on how effectively the gold can be recovered.

Pyrite has long been investigated for its semiconductor properties. Learn about studies underway to develop pyrite as a material to make solar cells.

Pyrite is found in a wide variety of geological settings, from igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock to hydrothermal mineral deposits, as well as in coal beds and as a replacement mineral in fossils. Pyrite can be either disseminated throughout igneous rock or concentrated in layers, depending on depositional mechanism and environment. Pyrite forms in sedimentary rocks in oxygen-poor environments in the presence of iron and sulfur. These are usually organic environments, such as coal and black shale, where decaying organic material consumes oxygen and releases sulfur. Pyrite often replaces plant debris and shells to create pyrite fossils or flattened discs called pyrite dollars.

In calcite and quartz veins, pyrite oxidizes to iron oxides or hydroxides such as limonite, an indicator that there is pyrite in the underlying rock. Such oxidized zones are called “gossan,” which appears as rusty zones at the surface. Gossans can be a good drilling targets for gold and other precious or base metals.

Pyrite is unstable and oxidizes easily, which is an issue in controlling acid mine drainage. Pyrite is a widespread natural source of arsenic, which can leach into ground-water aquifers when geologic strata containing pyrite are exposed to the air and water, during coal mining for example. Acid mine drainage and groundwater contamination requires close monitoring to ensure that it has been neutralized before being returned to the earth.

A question: If you have a shiny and tiny golden color spot in your sample, how would you identify it? Is it gold? Is it pyrite? Portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers are an important tool in this effort. In 2-3 seconds, you can identify that grain using a portable XRF. Isn’t that amazing? In addition to being used for exploration and mining applications, XRF analyzers can be used to monitor elemental contaminants at mine sites and in waste streams. XRF analyzers are capable of quantifying a wide range of elements, including sulfur, lead, and arsenic.”


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

Cement Manufacturing Process

Following on from the previous article from ThermoFishcer on the Top 10 Mining articles of 2020, here is the full article on The Cement Manufacturing Process.

Happy reading!

Cement Manufacturing Process


Link to the original article –

The Cement Manufacturing Process
By Darrell Leetham

“Different minerals need to be mined in order to make cement. Limestone (containing the mineral calcite), clay, and gypsum make up most of it. The US Geological Survey notes that cement raw materials, especially limestone, are geologically widespread and (luckily) abundant. Domestic cement production has been increasing steadily, from 66.4 million tons in 2010 to about 80.5 million tons of Portland cement in 2014 according to the U.S. Geological Survey 2015 Cement Mineral Commodity Summary. The overall value of sales of cement was about $8.9 billion, most of which was used to make an estimated $48 billion worth of concrete. Most construction projects involve some form of concrete.

There are more than twenty types of cement used to make various specialty concrete, however the most common is Portland cement.

Cement manufacturing is a complex process that begins with mining and then grinding raw materials that include limestone and clay, to a fine powder, called raw meal, which is then heated to a sintering temperature as high as 1450 °C in a cement kiln. In this process, the chemical bonds of the raw materials are broken down and then they are recombined into new compounds. The result is called clinker, which are rounded nodules between 1mm and 25mm across. The clinker is ground to a fine powder in a cement mill and mixed with gypsum to create cement. The powdered cement is then mixed with water and aggregates to form concrete that is used in construction.

Clinker quality depends on raw material composition, which has to be closely monitored to ensure the quality of the cement. Excess free lime, for example, results in undesirable effects such as volume expansion, increased setting time or reduced strength. Several laboratory and online systems can be employed to ensure process control in each step of the cement manufacturing process, including clinker formation.

Several laboratory and online systems can be employed to ensure process control

Laboratory X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) systems are used by cement QC laboratories to determine major and minor oxides in clinker, cement and raw materials such as limestone, sand and bauxite. Read Analysis of Clinker and Cement with Thermo Scientific ARL OPTIM’X WDXRF Sequential Spectrometer to learn why XRF is the technique of choice for elemental analysis in cement industry. Combination X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) systems accomplish both chemical phase analysis for a more complete characterization of the sample. Clinker phase analysis ensures consistent clinker quality. Such instrumentation can be fitted with several XRF monochromators for major oxides analysis and a compact diffraction (XRD) system which has the capability of measuring quartz in raw meal, free lime (CaO) and clinker phases as well as calcite (CaCO3) in cement.

Read XRF/XRD Combined Instrumentation Can Provide Complete Quality Control of Clinker and Cement to learn more about technology that combines the advantages of both XRF and XRD together.

Cross Belt Analyzers based on Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis (PGNAA) technology are installed directly on the conveyor belt to measure the entire material stream continuously and in real time to troubleshoot issues in pre-blending stockpile control and quarry management, raw mix proportioning control, and material sorting. Read PGNAA Improves Process and Quality Control in Cement Production to learn what makes PGNAA particularly suited for cement analysis.

Accurate cement production also depends on belt scale systems to monitor output and inventory or regulate product loadout, as well as tramp metal detectors to protect equipment and keep the operation running smoothly. The Cement Manufacturing Process flow chart sums up where in the process each type of technology is making a difference.”




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

Top Mining Articles

ThermoFisher has published an article listing the 10 most read articles on their blog last year.  Interesting read!

Each week we will be publishing one of the top ten in full so make sure you come back next week!


Link to the original article –

ThermoFisher Scientific

Top 10 Mining Articles This Year
By Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane, Editor

“Here are the ten most read articles on this mining blog during the past year. Over a quarter of a million people viewed our mining blog this year. Surprisingly, the most read article, with over 47,000 views is a cement-related story. Take a look below and read the ones you missed. Some of them are a bit dated, but are still useful and tens of thousands found them still of great interest.

1. The Cement Manufacturing Process

Cement manufacturing is a complex process that begins with mining and then grinding raw materials that include limestone and clay, to a fine powder, called raw meal, which is then heated to a sintering temperature as high as 1450 °C in a cement kiln. In this process, the chemical bonds of the raw materials are broken down and then they are recombined into new compounds. The result is called clinker, which are rounded nodules between 1mm and 25mm across. The clinker is ground to a fine powder in a cement mill and mixed with gypsum to create cement. The powdered cement is then mixed with water and aggregates to form concrete that is used in construction. Learn about the various laboratory and online systems that can be employed to ensure process control and a quality product.

2. Pyrite: The Real Story Behind “Fool’s Gold”

Pyrite is called “Fool’s Gold” because it resembles gold to the untrained eye. While pyrite has a brass-yellow color and metallic luster similar to gold, pyrite is brittle and will break rather than bend as gold does. Gold leaves a yellow streak, while pyrite’s streak is brownish black. Learn about other reasons this Sulfide mineral is often mistaken for gold, and how XRF analyzers can help identify the real thing.

3. New to the Mining Industry? Make Sure You Know the Most Common Types of Mining Equipment

The most common types of mining equipment vary depending whether the work is being carried out above or below ground or mining for gold, metals, coal or crude oil. From drilling machines to excavators, crushing and grinding equipment – the mining industry comes complete with all the right tools. New to the job and want to find out what it all means? Here’s a few of the industry’s most common types of equipment and why they’re important for the job.

4. Where Will All the Lithium Needed for Electric Cars Be Mined?

There’s a growing demand for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries to supply the electric car market. But lithium is a poorly concentrated mineral, so traditional hard-rock mining of lithium-bearing pegmatite and spodumene is a costly and time-intensive endeavor. The easiest and least expensive method of obtaining lithium is by the evaporation of highly concentrated lithium brine. Learn where it’s being found and mined.

5. Where Did Those Gemstones Come From?

Mining for precious colored gemstones is rigorous and time-consuming because the deposits are few and when found, tend to be characterized by small quantities of gems scattered throughout a large amount of rock. Modern mining techniques are of little value in these circumstances, and the deposits are often too small to be profitable for major mine outfits, who leave them to small, independent miners who rely on the same manual techniques they have been using for decades. Nevertheless, in recent years, several major mining companies have entered the gemstone market with new strategies for employing modern mining practice.

6. What Is Ambient Air?

Air quality is an important issue, especially in highly regulated industries such as coal mining, cement processing, and coal‐ and oil‐fired power generation. Rules such the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Standards are designed to protect the public and keep ambient air pollution-free. Ozone is another pollutant of ambient air that has been linked to global warming and health risks for children. The 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone addresses primary and secondary ozone standard levels.

7. What You Need to Know About Mining Philippines

Mining Philippines, an international conference and exhibition organized by the Philippines Chamber of Mines, showcased the latest products that are advancing the interest of mining, quarrying and mineral processing. According to the show website, attendees learned about the latest technology that can help in “efficient exploration, development and utilization of minerals in consonance with sound economic, environmental and social policies etc. in the Minerals, Metals & Ores industry.

8. Mining and the Environment: What Happens When A Mine Closes?

Mining operations, however expansive and complex, are temporary. Eventually, once the most accessible and valuable materials have been extracted, the mine is closed, and the site must be restored back to its original state. This includes covering up mine entrances, replanting grass and trees, and testing surrounding water, soil, and air for contaminants.

9. Ubiquitous Industrial Minerals: Nature’s Most Popular Raw Materials

Industrial minerals are generally defined as minerals that are not sources of metals, fuel, or gemstones. The most widely-used industrial minerals include limestone, clays, sand, gravel, diatomite, kaolin, bentonite, silica, barite, gypsum, potash, pumice, and talc. Some of the industrial minerals commonly used in construction, such as crushed stone, sand, gravel, and cement, are called aggregates. Industrial minerals are extremely versatile; most have at least two, sometimes many more, applications and span multiple markets.

10. Potash: A Look at the World’s Most Popular Fertilizer

Today, potash comes from either underground or solution mining. Underground potash deposits come from evaporated sea beds. Boring machines dig out the ore, which is transported to the surface to the processing mill, where the raw ore is crushed and refined to extract the potassium salts. When deposits are located very deep in the earth, solution mining is used as an alternative to traditional underground mining. Solution mining employs the use of water or brine to dissolve water soluble minerals such as potash, magnesium or other salts. Wells are drilled down to the salt deposits, and the solvent is injected into the ore body to dissolve it. The solution is then pumped to surface and the minerals are recovered through recrystallization.”


Top Mining Articles

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

Should We Give Dust a Chance?

Should We Give Dust a Chance? The European Nework on Silica says “no”.  Read the following article from nepsi and see what they have to say.


Link to the original article –

Don’t Give Dust a Chance

nepsi – The European Network on Silica

“Dust is a disperse distribution of solid substances in gases, particularly air, resulting from mechanical processes or from the swirling up of deposits.

With this rather complicated definition a very specific type of hazardous substance is paraphrased which is accorded a particular significance in many branches of industry. In mining, quarries and tunnelling, in the use of dust or powder-like raw materials in the glass and ceramics industry, in metal foundries, in the manufacture and processing of building materials, in the mechanical machining of different raw and finished products, for example as a result of grinding, but also in maintenance and cleaning work in areas with a high accumulation of dust: in all these processes, fine and finest solid particles occur which are released into the air at the workplace and can therefore be inhaled by the people employed there.

The health hazard caused by the inhalation of dust is however usually dramatically underestimated by employees and the responsible management staff in the plant. On the one hand dust is often only considered to be “annoying dirt”, which from time to time needs to be swept away or disposed of – as long as one can still see one’s hands in front of one’s eyes, everything is ok.

On the other hand the matter of dust is old hat, the proverbial “hellholes” belong to the past at any rate, or maybe not?

To be able to effectively confront such catastrophic prejudices and thereby facilitate an effective dust control, a deeper knowledge of the type and mode of action of the different types of dust is necessary.

What dusts are there actually?
As already defined, dust consists of fine, solid particles distributed in the air that are caused by mechanical machining (milling or surface machining) or by the swirling up of deposits (e.g. by blowing off dust with pressurised air or dry sweeping using a broom). Fumes count among dusts in the broad sense. They are formed as a result of chemical or thermal processes (e.g. welding) and also consist of fine solid particles distributed in the air.

Fibre dust is a description of airborne particles made from inorganic or organic substances which have an elongated shape. Fibres which have a length of > 5 µm, a diameter of < 3 µm and exceed a length-diameter ratio of 3:1 play a particular role since only they can penetrate into the deeper respiratory passages.

Dust entering the air at the workplace is inhaled when breathing and thereby reaches the different areas of the respiratory organs. Larger particles are already segregated in the upper air passages, i.e. in the nose and throat, while only the smaller particles reach the deeper respiratory passages, the alveolus or pulmonary alveoli. To assess the health hazard, therefore, in addition to the concentration of particles (dust mass per m³ breathable air in [mg/m³]) the particle size in particular is also of significance.

Two size categories are thereby differentiated: the inhalable and the respirable fraction. Inhalable dust refers to the entire inhalable proportion of the dust through the mouth and nose. Repirable dust relates to the proportion of the respirable dust which can reach the pulmonary alveoli due to its small particle size (fig. 1 and 2).

The individual hazardous substances can, in each case depending on how they originate, occur in entirely different particle fractions and be individually limited in these fractions via the occupational exposure limit (OEL) according to their toxic properties. The assessment of dust that is hazardous to health at the workplace therefore, in addition to the proportions of inhalable and respirable dust, also calls for the knowledge on the distribution of the hazardous substance within the individual fractions. A differentiation must be made according to particle size, shape and material composition (fig.3).

Occupational exposure limits for different varieties of dust have so far been determined according to this principle for the inhalable or for the respirable dust fraction. Irrespective of this there are general upper limits for the inhalable and respirable fraction of dust without specific toxic effect. In the EU no binding OEL has so far been determined for inhalable and respirable dust. However, for inhalable dust a OEL of 10 mg/m³ applies in the majority of EU member states whereas the national values for respirable dust are in a range from 3 to 6 mg/m³. An overview of the internationally applicable OEL´s for dust can be found in (fig. 4).

How do dusts enter the body and what effect do they have?
Humans have a respiratory system with an effective self-clearance mechanism. This filter system copes with “normal grime” effortlessly and protects humans quite perfectly. However, it is not adequately designed for excessive stress as a result of dusts. An essential function in the self-clearance of the respiratory passages is played by the microscopically-small cilia which can be found inside the bronchia and their finer branches, the bronchioles. With continuous directed movements they transport the dust particles deposited in the bronchial mucus back to the upper respiratory tract where they can then be coughed up.

As a result of inhaling large quantities of dust or of toxic dust, this clearance mechanism can be disrupted or at least be greatly impaired for a long time. The consequences are irritations or inflammations of the upper respiratory passages, increased mucous secretions and a tickly cough, bronchitis and inflammations of the bronchia and of the pulmonary tissue. In these cases, it is much easier for toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic dust particles such as, for example silica dust, heavy metal oxides, welding fumes, wood or flour dust, to deploy their harmful effect in the respiratory passages and in other organs of the body.

Tobacco fumes particularly impair the clearance mechanism of the lungs. Smoking can lead to the destruction of the bronchial mucosa with the irreversible loss of cilia and adenocytes of the respiratory passages that form mucous. The transport of the mucous with the dust particles segregated in it out of the respiratory passages comes to a standstill. Smoking therefore is harmful not only as a result of the toxic substances in the tobacco smoke such as tar constituents, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, heavy metals and nicotine. It also disables the self-clearance mechanism of the lungs and thereby multiplies the harmful effect of the inhaled dust.

What regulations are there on dust protection?
The fundamental approach for dust protection is determined in the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC dated 7 April 1998. Accordingly it should be tested whether substances with a lower risk to health can be used (principle of substitution). However, silica as a raw material cannot be replaced in many branches of industry since silicon dioxide is the basic component for an entire series of mineral raw materials and products. Other frequently used hazardous dusts (e.g. lead oxide in glazes and engobes) can sometimes be replaced by other less harmful compounds.

If hazardous substances cannot be substituted, protective measures are to be taken. The order of precedence of the protective measures is also defined in the Chemical Agents Directive. Work methods are to be designed in such a way that hazardous vapours and suspended particles are not released. Leaking of generated dust can be prevented, for example, by means of dust-tight systems or vacuum operation. The design of the working process is therefore to be reviewed. For example, the use of moistened raw materials can drastically reduce the production of dust. Another possibility is the use of raw material granulates with a corresponding lower tendency to dust formation.

According to the current state of the art the release of dust is unavoidable in many production areas. For this reason capture must be as complete as possible already at the emission point or point of origin. There are already suitable extraction systems, for example, for ceramic presses, for bagging units for powdery substances or tools and systems for the machining of natural stone. The effectiveness of extraction systems must be supported with corresponding ventilation technology and adequate venting of the work areas. Substances which tend to produce dust must be immediately disposed of by suitable means (vacuum cleaners or sweeping vacuum machines with deduster) in the event of repair works. Brooms or even pressurised air are not suitable and are to be strictly banned from such areas!

If the OEL´s, despite exploiting all technical and organisational protective measures, are not complied with, for example during maintenance and repair work, then personal protective measures are necessary, for example wearing dust masks.

In any event employees must be trained in accordance with the Chemical Agents Directive about hazards and protective measures: the preparation of operating instructions and corresponding instruction by supervisors are compulsory. Further organisational measures in the event of dust exposure include the execution of specific occupational health check-ups or the minimisation of exposure by restricting the duration of stay of the employees (e.g. in a partially or fully-automated raw material dosing system).

What is the situation in practice?
The relatively extensive and thus general provisions of the Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC are further substantiated in the EU member states in national legislation. These regulations, however, often are not sufficient to solve urgent dust problems in operational practice. For this reason the Expert Committee for glass and ceramics have prepared “Ten golden rules for dust control”, which should provide plants with a simple, clear and above all user-friendly guideline. These rules can be used by the responsible parties in the plant for the risk assessment, for training purposes and in daily work.

If the rules are observed by the employees, they will achieve a major contribution to the reduction of dust exposure and thus improve the protection of health in the plants.

10 Golden Rules – follow the link provided – – to read these in full

1. Avoid the formation of dust in the first place
2.Use low-dust Materials
3. Work in closed systems wherever possible
4. Immediately separate dust at the point of origin
5. Optimise and regularly maintain extraction systems
6. Adequately ventilate the workshops
7. Immediately dispose of waste in a dust-free manner
8. Regularly clean workplaces
9. Keep work clothes clean
10. Use respiratory protection for dust-intensive work”


Should We Give Dust a Chance?

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

The Truth About Dust

Last time we read that dust wasn’t so bad, now let’s read this article from the Karolinsak Institute and learn “The dirty truth about dust”


Follow this link for the original article –

Karolinska Institute – Research

The dirty truth about dust
“Some people say that no one has ever died from a little dust. On the contrary, say others, dust is deadly. In reality, not all dust can be tarred with the same brush. Here is your guide to the dirt on earth – and on the moon.

When Neil Armstrong and the other astronauts walked on the moon in the 1960s and 70s, small clouds of moon dust puffed up around each footstep. It really flew up when they went for a drive in the moon buggy. So much so that they were forced to stop and build an improvised mudflap with material from the moon lander.

Back in the space capsule, they took off their dirty spacesuits as if was any other day at work. In pictures from inside the space capsule, the astronaut Eugene Cernan looks like a happy miner, covered in dust and with a big smile on his face.

But extraterrestrial dust is not like other dust. The astronauts noted that it smelled remarkably strongly of burned gunpowder. And it stuck to everything. The astronaut Jack Schmitt was the first to be affected by a mysterious space cold.

“It was really crazy how they acted, that they didn’t store the spacesuits separately. We now consider moon dust to be very hazardous,” explains Lars Karlsson, researcher at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet.

The dust has been described as being fine as flour, but as rough as sandpaper. It is thought to have been created through millions of years of bombardment by micrometeorites that have partly transformed the top layer of stone into glass. Further meteorites have then crushed this glass into increasingly fine particles.

Lars Karlsson, who is conducting research concerning human physiology in space, describes how moon dust is a serious impediment to future moon landings. Together with an international research team, he has analysed how moon dust is thought to affect the human body. According to the researchers’ hypotheses, moon dust has pretty much all of the bad properties dust can have.

“Firstly, it consists of very sharp particles that cut into the tissues. Secondly, it is irradiated with cosmic radiation, which we believe makes it electrically charged and hyper-reactive – this means that it sticks to everything and reacts chemically with everything it comes into contact with. Thirdly, it contains many small particles that can penetrate barriers such as human skin and lung tissue,” says Lars Karlsson.

Combined with low or non-existent gravity, which means that the dust that is stirred up does not fall down again, this makes it really problematic.

Is there anything like moon dust on earth?

“No, not even the moon dust that has been brought back to earth is like moon dust any more. When it reacts with the earth’s atmosphere, its properties change. Attempts have been made to preserve it in airtight containers, but without success. The closest thing to moon dust that exists on earth is newly formed ash from volcanoes,” says Lars Karlsson.

His is one of few researchers who have the opportunity to gain access to moon dust. Together with his colleague Dag Linnarsson, he is now attempting to get the funding together to return it to its original state and study it further. The fact is there is interest from NASA and other space financiers to learn more about the properties and health effects of moon dust. Because one thing is clear – if humans are to return to the moon, the dust issue must be resolved.

On the earth the windy atmosphere and the rain mean that dust particles become rounded and precipitation and gravity mean that the dust eventually ends up on the ground. The dust is not electrically charged and the oxygen in the air means that it is not as chemically aggressive as it is on the moon. But even here, some groups of workers are exposed to chemically reactive dust, for example siliceous dust in the stone industry.

And visiting something that looks similar to a lunar landscape does not require space travel. All you have to do is take a walk to Torsplan in Stockholm, where you will find one of Europe’s largest construction sites. The construction of the new Karolinska University Hospital and its new neighbouring blocks looks, in places, like a bomb site. Which it is actually – the air smells strongly of burned gunpowder after the most recent explosion.

Towering above the disarray is a newly constructed building on the tenth floor of which industrial hygienist Pernilla Wiebert has her office. She works at the Centre of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Stockholm County Council, helping patients who suffer from work-related health problems, and she conducts research concerning dust and occupational health problems at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.

The premises are quiet, bright and fresh. The patients, some of whom have developed a sensitivity to dust and strong smells, are received on wooden chairs that are easy to keep clean.

“We have a very good cleaner here,” says Pernilla Wiebert. She explains that some of the patients have been exposed to quartz dust, which is still a significant work environment problem in the construction industry.

As with moon dust, quartz dust consists of hard particles of silica that the body cannot break down. The particles are instead encapsulated in scar tissue in the pulmonary alveoli, which leads in the long term to solidified lungs and the incurable disease silicosis.

“In the long term, silicosis is a deadly disease, so it is serious,” explains Pernilla Wiebert.

Quartz dust also increases the risk of the lung disease COPD, which is more common among construction workers than others. The fact that it is carcinogenic is also known because of studies such as that at Gustavsberg’s porcelain factory, where the levels of quartz dust were ten times higher than the limit value in the 1970s and 80s. When Pernilla Wiebert and her research colleagues investigated the incidence of cancer among former employees, it was shown that more of them than normal had contracted lung cancer, as well as urinary tract cancers. Quartz is present in the bedrock and soil in Sweden and in products such a concrete, ceramic and glass. The problem of quartz dust is greatest in the construction industry and mining and stone industry, but is also found in industries such as agriculture and cleaning work such as sandblasting.

The other day she visited the construction site on the other side of the street and was “really impressed” by the efforts being made in terms of the working environment. But in general, she is not at all satisfied.

“Exposure to dust has decreased since the problem was first noted, but we are now seeing an increase in the problem again. Those people who were committed to this problem have subsequently been replaced and it is so much easier to focus on the risk of accidents. Dust is more deceptive as it effects people in the long term,” she says.

Protecting yourself requires good cleaning procedures and the use of a breathing mask – and the beard has to go.

“A breathing mask must fit tightly and works poorly when you have a beard or stubble. There are good ways to protect yourself, but such important details are often neglected. If only the knowledge we have had been used, there would not be a problem,” says Pernilla Wiebert.

Dust is also deceptive, as the most common type can neither be seen nor smelled. Larger particles can certainly worsen asthma and cause allergies, if they contain allergens.

But the cilia in the airways are able to quickly transport them to the throat where they are swallowed, and they are clearly noticeable as an irritation in the nose and throat. Small particles, that are found in dust such as quartz dust, reach as far down as the lungs’ capillaries and alveoli, where they remain for a longer period or are encapsulated permanently.

It is uncertain to what extent small particles penetrate even further, past the lungs, and where they end up. In order to answer this question, Pernilla Wiebert, as part of the work on her thesis, is using an apparatus that generates a cloud of carbon particles, every one of which is labelled with a radioactive isotope that makes it traceable. The radioactive carbon cloud is then inhaled by test subjects.

“I thought that some of the particles would perhaps enter the bloodstream. But it was shown that almost all of the particles, even the smallest, remained in the lungs,” she says.

That was the case with the carbon cloud specifically. But other researchers have found inhaled nanoparticles in organs such as the liver, kidneys and brain. Even if the particles normally remain in the lungs, this does not mean that they are otherwise harmless to the body. Inflammation in the lungs can lead to inflammation in the cardiovascular system and myocardial infarction; something that is more common within occupations with a high level of exposure to particles. The risk is particularly high within occupations with a high level of exposure to small particles from combustion, such as engine exhaust.

Pernilla Wiebert is currently working on a research project that compares the incidence of myocardial infarction in various occupations with data concerning exposure to particles – the goal is to gain new knowledge about which types of particles are most hazardous.

Dust with a biological origin may contain, for example, animal proteins, bacteria and fungal spores, and in high doses can cause influenza-like symptoms known as ODTS (organic dust toxic syndrome). Long-term inhalation can cause inflammatory changes in the lungs that researchers call extrinsic allergic alveolitis, but in specific occupations may go by names such as farmer’s lung, bird fancier’s lung and cheese washer’s lung.

The dust that is formed in pigsties is particularly nasty. Swineherd’s have an increased risk of developing ODTS, as well as the lung diseases chronic bronchitis and COPD, which normally affect mainly smokers. Lena Palmberg, researcher at the Institute for Environmental Medicine, has shown that swineherds have an impaired natural immune response and a chronic inflammation in the respiratory tract. Test subjects who try out the work temporarily also quickly get sharply increased levels of white blood cells and the signs of respiratory tract inflammation. The research indicates that it is bacteria or bacterial components from the pigs’ excrement that is having a detrimental impact on the lungs of swineherds.

Even those who do not have dusty occupations are unavoidably exposed to dust in the home and outdoor environments. Common household dust consists largely of relatively harmless fragments of dead skin and textile fibres. But if the dust contains substances that disrupt hormones or other chemicals from the surroundings, there is a fear that this may lead to a serious impact on health in the long term.

This is currently being investigated in several studies at Karolinska Institutet, among them a project in which dust in preschools is being analysed. The confirmed health effects are even greater when it comes to dust outdoors. However, as opposed to dusty occupations, where a few individuals have a markedly increased risk of becoming ill, dusty cities lead to a fairly small increase in various health risks, but for a large number of people.

“For an individual, the increase in risk is not particularly large. But when looking at the entire population, particles in the air cause many premature deaths each year,” says Tom Bellander, professor of environmental epidemiology at the Institute for Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet.

In spring, cities become particularly dusty as the streets dry out and the particles that have been stored by damp roads over winter are stirred up into the air. Small particles from combustion are generally regarded as having the most serious health effects. In recent years, however, the perception that larger particles, such as those that arise when studded tires wear the road, would at worst be an irritant, has been re-evaluated. “We know now, from studies of environments in which sand from the Sahara often blows in, that larger particles also contribute to increased mortality,” says Tom Bellander.

According to Tom Bellander, it is generally very difficult to determine what makes a particular particle harmful and to measure exactly which particles are responsible for the detrimental health effects. The guidelines that are used to regulate particle levels in the air focus on the particles’ size. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines state, for example, that the air should not contain more than 10 micrograms per cubic metre of particles that are up to 2.5 micrometres in size in the long term. There are also statutory standards for these and for somewhat larger particles. But Tom Bellander believes that a major deficiency with the guidelines is that they do not take greater account of the shape, origin and chemical properties of the particles. Quite simply, we do not know enough to enable this.

At the political level, Tom Bellander believes that there is a lot to do if we are to reduce the level of particles in the air. The goal should be to reduce emissions and move them from environments in which people live. As an individual, there is not much you can do aside from living in a place that is as clean as possible.

“If you live in Beijing, Delhi or Mexico City, I think this is something very relevant to be thinking about. In Sweden, this is really more one factor among others to think about when you plan to move, provided you do not have a specific sensitivity that gives you problems.”

But understandably, the advice to move cannot be followed by everyone.

“The emissions are where the people are. So if everyone moved out of the city centre, it won’t be long before a large proportion of the air pollution moves too.”

Info: This is why dust can be harmful
Dust can consist of almost anything and be harmless or deadly. Here are some properties of dust particles that govern their impact on health.

Size – Small particles such as exhaust particles float for longer in the air, are more easily inhaled and get deeper into the lungs.

Shape – Particles with a large surface area such as moon dust have a greater risk of reacting with the body’s cells and tissues.

Reactivity – The surface of particles can be chemically reactive or stable. This determines what reactions can take place when they come into contact with the human body.

Lifespan – Some particles can be broken down by the body, others cannot. For example, quartz dust remains in the body, which increases the risk of some health effects.

Info: This is where dust particles are found
Dust can consist of, for example, pollen, bacteria, smoke, ash, salt crystals from the sea and small pieces of dirt or stone.

There is often a grain of dust in the middle of a raindrop. Raindrops are actually formed around small grains of dust or particles in the atmosphere known as aerosols.

The more dust the air contains, the prettier the sunset. This is because particles help to disperse blue light and let through more of the red colours.

The Sahara Desert is the greatest source of dust in the world. Every year, 180 million tonnes are blown out over the Atlantic. Some reaches South America, where it helps to fertilise the Amazon Rain Forest.

Text: Ola Danielsson, first published in Medicinsk Vetenskap, 2 2016″


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

Dust – Good for you?

Can dust and dirt be good for you?  Have a look.  Enjoy the read!


Link to the original article –

Dust might be good for you: study

By Eric DanekThe Canadian Press
Mon., May 16, 2011

“MONTREAL – Didn’t get around to dusting this weekend? Don’t worry. It turns out that dust might actually hold some benefits for you.

The perennial household nuisance actually purifies the air by neutralizing ozone that can harm our lungs.

Dust can do this because one of its major components is human skin — which contains the ozone-eliminating component squalene.

So don’t feel too bad about the fact that bits of your body are accumulating on the DVD player.

“Dust is parts of . . . people that have been in that room,” said Charles Weschler, who helped author a study, the result of which were announced this week by the American Chemical Society.

“I mean, that’s a gross way of thinking about it.”

Humans constantly shed their skin, losing up to 500 million cells per day. At that rate, according to Weschler, it would take a person two to four weeks to turn over all of the skin cells on their body.

It’s these skin flakes that clean the air. Their squalene helps neutralize ozone.

Most people might think of ozone as a good thing — and it is, when it’s up high in the atmosphere and protecting us from ultraviolet radiation. But when it’s down here, closer to us in the air that we breathe, it’s a pollutant.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, even very low concentrations of ozone can be harmful to the upper respiratory tract and the lungs.

In their study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology, Weschler and colleagues studied the potential of ozone removal by dust in Danish homes and daycares.

They found the reduction of ozone could be anywhere from two to 15 per cent, depending on the amount of squalene present in the dust.

The benefits could be even greater.

Weschler’s study only looked at the squalene in settled dust. He thinks that squalene from dust can also stick to surfaces like windows or desks, and this squalene coating could lead to a higher-than-calculated ozone reduction.

Dust isn’t the only source of squalene in our environment. We’re literally covered in it.

“The skin oils on our surface, (the) skin oils on our forehead, or our nose or the oils responsible for us leaving fingerprints behind, those skin oils contain squalene,” said Weschler, a professor at the School of Public Health at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

“Squalene is actually the single most abundant chemical in our skin surface (oils).”

He calls human beings, “remarkably good ozone sinks.”
But before you pack away that feather-duster forever, there are some caveats.

Of course, lower ozone levels will hardly provide comfort to your guests with dust allergies who wind up hacking and wheezing when they come over.

And not much is known about the health effects of the compounds formed when squalene and ozone react with each other.”


Link to the original article –

Mark’s Daily Apple

Going Grubby: The Primal Benefits of Dirt, Dust and Dishevelment

“Clearly, cleanliness is next to godliness, as they say, in this country. The number of products devoted to the sacred rite of purging and scouring American households staggers the imagination. (Ever roamed the cleaning supply aisles at Target? It’s a trip unto itself.) Every strength, size, scent, packaging, active ingredient, and formula (Would you prefer powder, gel, spray, cream, or specially concentrated disk?). But wait! There’s the anti-bacterial, virus-killing, and “odor shielding” options. And, of course, we now have a plethora of “green” cleaners infiltrating the line up. (Some more green than others.)

But just what do we get for the infinite invention of the last thirty or so years? Are our living quarters really all that much cleaner than our grandmother’s homes? Have we truly transcended the power of elbow grease, hot water, and simple routine?

While basic sanitation has clearly made a critical difference in human health, what happens when old-fashioned diligence becomes super strength obsession?

We all remember learning in school that 90% of household dust is made up of sloughed human skin. Yeah, it grossed us out, but is it really such a major health threat that we use language suggestive of military assault to “combat” it? We tend to think that there are some useful things in there. How about pet dander? Numerous studies have shown that exposure to pet dander throughout childhood reduces the incidence of pet allergy and asthma.

We agree that if you can write “wash me” in the dust on your window sill it’s time to dig out the Swifter. (We didn’t say we were fans of filth.) Keeping a handle on the dust that accumulates is important, we think, but not because of the heebie jeebies elicited by the skin statistic or any aesthetic reasoning. It’s those nasty flame retardant particles (PBDEs) that get kicked up from furniture and other household items we talked about a couple of weeks ago. (Suddenly that human skin sounds pretty good.) Nonetheless, we don’t believe in flying off the handle. Cut out conventional flame retardant products where you can and happily retire the white glove test.

O.K., this one’s our favorite. We could write an entire post “Ode to Dirt.” Suffice it to say, since our long lost days of mud pies, too many of us have forgone the unique pleasure of luxuriating in nature’s emollient.

For anyone who’s had a mud mask or massage, you likely need little convincing. For those of you who lived in the mud as children much to the desperate chagrin of your mothers, we know the love isn’t something you truly outgrow. (You wouldn’t happen to be outdoorsmen/women now would you?) But if you don’t fall into these categories, consider that your run-of-the-mill, basic, unassuming, backyard soil can act as an anti-depressant? You bet your buckets! Naturally occurring bacteria in the soil, it turns out, trip the neurons that produce serotonin.

As for soap, consider it overrated. There’s genius in that skin of ours – a nifty little “acid mantle,” to be specific, that protects the skin from dehydration, inflammation, and cracking that leaves it open to infection.

As for the typical household cleaners designed to rid your house of every speck of dirt that may trespass beyond your doorway? Well, as we said in our chemical load post, the endocrine-disrupting and respiratory damaging chemicals that make up so much of those products seem to be a much greater threat (understatement) than the good old dirt that Grok lived, ate and breathed.

O.K. We don’t have much of a “health” argument to make with this one. In fact, household clutter has even been linked to higher obesity rates. However, in light of the “clean” obsession, are we overdoing it on this front too? There’s the part in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ferris describes Cameron’s house (to paraphrase): It’s like a museum. It’s very beautiful, but you don’t dare touch anything.

In Grok’s day (and perhaps in our grandmothers’) it was probably easier to keep a clean house because – well – people just didn’t accumulate as much stuff. In the age of Rubbermaid bins and The Container Store, isn’t it so easy to just keep adding to the collection as long as everything ends up with a place to “live,” as professional organizers call it?

We think there’s a place for dishevelment to be sure. To affirm the old adage, recent research suggests that the owners of messy offices are more creative than those with very neat spaces. Apparently, the proverbial, creative, “light-bulb” moments tend to come as a result of mental happenstance. The mind finds momentary distraction in a “side track” thought (or random unearthed document) and has the chance to make new and novel connections. Sound true to you?

In the spirit of good old Mother Nature, the opposite of dishevelment isn’t meticulous organization. In one setting, one moment, it’s layer upon layer of rich detail. Stark spareness in another. (Perhaps there’s something to living with both possibilities. Hmmm?) In either and any case, it’s messy, dirty, dusty, rough, ragged and will probably leave a mark. In the postmodern, super sanitized, Fabreeze-misted world of Mr. Clean versus Grok, thanks, but we’ll hang with Grok any day of the week.”



Dust - Good for you?

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

Laundry Detergents and Pollution

An interesting article from about pollution and laundry detergents.  Enjoy the read!

Laundry Detergents and Pollution

By Emily Beach

“In the quest to get whites their whitest and keep colors bright, you could be contributing to air and water pollution that affects both human health and the environment. Yes, your choice of laundry detergent can have a direct impact on the quality and health of your local lakes, streams and water supply. Understanding how different chemicals and other ingredients can affect the Earth can help you make informed, Earth-friendly choices in the laundry detergent aisle.

Laundry detergent has contributed to environmental pollution ever since it was first introduced during the early 20th century. For years, detergent makers used chemicals called phosphates to make their products. When the phosphates used in detergents enter local water supplies, they provide nutrients for marine plants, resulting in algae population explosions. The algae use up the oxygen in the water, leaving none left for fish and other animals to breathe. These bodies of water become barren habitats and unsuitable for human recreation.

By the 1990s, many states banned phosphates in detergents. In 1994, the detergent industry agreed to strictly limit or remove phosphates from their products. Water tests performed in the 1970s showed that the level of phosphates in wastewater jumped to nearly four times the level of the 1940s. After the phosphate bans of the 1990s, levels dropped by more than half.

Pollution Concerns
Though you won’t find phosphates in most U.S. laundry detergents, many of these products contain other substances known to pollute the environment. Nonylphenol ethoxylates and other chemicals used to make detergents are toxic to marine life. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, they also affect human development and reproduction .

Sodium perborate and other detergent bleach products can irritate the nose, eyes, lungs and skin and might affect reproductive health. Some dyes used in laundry detergents are toxic to fish and other aquatic life; others are known carcinogens, according to the EPA.

Indoor Air Quality
Many of the concerns about laundry detergents relate to how they affect the water supply or marine life after they leave your home. However, laundry detergents can also damage air quality in and around your home.

Science Daily reports a study of dryer vent exhaust gas, which found traces of many organic compounds, including carcinogens such as acetaldehyde and benzene. These compounds, which are used to scent some popular brands of laundry detergent, decrease air quality indoors and contribute to air and water pollution in the environment.

You’ll find many eco-friendly detergents on the market that claim to protect the environment. When you compare detergents to spot potentially harmful ingredients, read labels carefully. To quickly identify more Earth-friendly laundry detergent options, look for products bearing the EPA Design for the Environment seal. Detergents with this seal are free of inorganic phosphates and contain only surfactants that minimize environmental pollution when they go into solution. To protect your family’s health, WebMD recommends seeking out laundry detergents that are fragrance-free or scented without the use of petroleum by-products.”


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