Dangers of Dust in the Workplace

Here is an in-depth article from the World Health Organisation regarding dust in the workplace.  Please follow the link to read the full article.

Dangers of Dust in the Workplace

Hazard prevention and control in the work environment: Airborne dust (WHO, 1999)
© 1999 World Health Organization


“Executive summary
Airborne contaminants can occur in the gaseous form (gases and vapours) or as aerosols, which include airborne dusts, sprays, mists, smokes and fumes. Airborne dusts are of particular concern because they are associated with classical widespread occupational lung diseases such as the pneumoconioses, as well as with systemic intoxications such as lead poisoning, especially at higher levels of exposure. There is also increasing interest in other dust-related diseases, such as cancer, asthma, allergic alveolitis and irritation, as well as a whole range of non-respiratory illnesses, which may occur at much lower exposure levels. This document has, therefore, been produced to aid dust control and the reduction of disease.

Whenever people inhale airborne dust at work, they are at risk of occupational disease. Year after year, both in developed and in developing countries, overexposure to dusts causes disease, temporary and permanent disabilities and deaths. Dusts in the workplace may also contaminate or reduce the quality of products, be the cause of fire and explosion, and damage the environment.

As a matter of social justice, human suffering related to work is unacceptable. Moreover, appreciable financial losses result from the burden of occupational and work related diseases on national health and social security systems, as well as from their negative influence on production and quality of products. All these adverse consequences, which are economically costly to employers and to society, are preventable through measures which have been known for a long time, and which are often of low cost.

The aim of this document is to help educate and train people in the prevention and control of dust in the workplace. It also aims at motivating employers and workers to collaborate with each other, in tandem with occupational health professionals, for the prevention of the adverse effects caused by dust in the workplace. Of course, dust is only one among the many workplace hazards, which include other aerosols (such as fumes and mists), gases and vapours, physical and biological agents, as well as ergonomic factors and psychosocial stresses.”


Safety Risk – https://safetyrisk.net/dangers-of-dust-in-the-workplace-and-how-to-handle-it/

Dangers of Dust in the Workplace and How To Handle It
March 8, 2013 by Dave Collins

Guest post

Dust is a very dangerous occupational health hazard to millions of workers out there. There are so many sources of dust and almost any manufacturing company produces dust of some form. Some of the most serious respiratory diseases as well as skin conditions contracted from the workplace can be attributed to dust. The dangers of dust can either be short term or long term.

Short Term Dangers
The immediate dangers of dust arise from the combustive nature of dust and the dust particles suspended in the air the worker breaths. They are few but can be severe enough to cause instant death or serious physical impairment. Here are some of the short term effects of dust:

Risks of injury as a result of explosion
Rarely a cloud of dust, which may be highly inflammable, explodes leading to serious fires. The blast produced by the explosion can give rise to projectile objects that can cause injury due to impact. Larger objects may cause death by hitting the worker while smaller ones may penetrate into the body and cause internal injuries.

Respiratory problems
The dust particles suspended in the air when small enough can be inhaled into the upper airways (the nose and the pharynx) causing blockage and lead to breathing difficulties. For those already suffering from respiratory problems such as asthma and pneumonia; dust can exacerbate the problem and cause acute attacks.

Skin problems
Dust may contain irritant chemicals such as those used to treat timber. If such dust settles on the skin, it can chemically react with skin causing itchiness, redness, scaling and dryness. Dust may also have corrosive effect leading to ulceration and breaching of the skin’s integrity.

Visual disturbances
Small dust particles may deposit in the eye and occlude the lens and also cause irritation of the eyes. This will manifest with excessive production of tears which is very uncomfortable.

Long – Term Dangers
These are the most common and the most severe dangers of dust in the work place. They take years to develop and at times it may be difficult to associate them with exposure to dust. Some may take as long as 50 years after exposure to manifest. Here are the common long term effects:

Asthma and pneumonia
These are airway diseases that cause difficulty in breathing. Asthma is caused by allergic reaction to allergens including dust particles. Pneumonia on the other hand is caused by deposition of dust particles in the lungs and encourages infection.

Lung cancer
This is the most dreaded long-term and the most severe danger associated with workplace dust. It may take too long to develop and this makes it very difficult to link to dust exposure. If not recognised early, it always leads to death.

Skin cancer
This is quite rare but can be very severe if it happens. Irritant dust contains carcinogenic chemicals that can cause skin cancer when it comes in contact with the skin.

How to Lower the Dangers
Most countries have laws or legislations that govern occupational exposure (Australia) and companies in which dust is produced are expected to adequately protect their workers from the effects of dust. As an employer, you are expected to try as much as possible to minimise the amount of dust expended from the workplace. Here are some of the ways you can ensure that dust is adequately dispersed:

Adequate ventilation
An exhaustion ventilation and/or diffusion ventilation can be used. The former removes localised dust as in a chamber while the latter ensures balanced dispersion of dust within an area where it cannot be totally eliminated.

Use of dust extractor or a vacuum
Most companies now use these services to rid the workplace of dust. Dust extraction equipment serves to clean off tiny dust particles by sucking them. They are especially important in cleaning off dust that might accumulate under the machinery, a situation that increases the risk of explosion.

Use of protective clothing
Workers should be provided with aprons, head covers, dust masks or ventilators that keep the dust away from coming into contact with the body.

Heath education and regular health check for the employees
Workers should be educated on the health effects of dust as some may disregard the protective clothing they are provided with. Regular check-up can recognise the effects early and allow for successful intervention.”


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

Indigenous Peoples and Mining

An interesting course is available at this website regarding how mining affects indigenous people groups.  Take a look.  I have added the basic introduction – this course is not affiliated with DustWatch CC in any way.  The post is added for interest sake alone.



Indigenous Peoples and Mining 1: Indigeneity Concepts and Context
Areas of Study: Environment and Community

This course examines the complex idea of indigeneity and surveys several active mining regions in the world to discuss the Indigenous context in those countries.

Authors: Amiel Blajchman MES, PGDip BusEnv, PGDip LACS (Co-Author), Corey Dekker (Co-Author)

“This course begins by introducing and critically examining the concepts and theories that underpin the idea of indigeneity. It then discusses some of the most active mining regions of the world, providing key contextual information about Indigenous peoples in common-law countries (Canada, United States, Australia) and Latin American countries (Mexico, Peru, Brazil). It also emphasizes Indigenous experiences with colonization, because these experiences frame the way many Indigenous peoples view mining and development activities today.

One of the overarching points we wish to stress at the beginning of this course, and which is reflected throughout, is the incredible diversity of Indigenous peoples—culturally, linguistically, developmentally, and in terms of their aspirations. In some parts of the world, such as the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous peoples might be some of the least advanced civilizations remaining in the world, relying on hunting and gathering to survive and having very little interaction with the outside world. In other parts of the world (such as Canada, the United States, or Australia), Indigenous people actively participate in politics and the community, run businesses, and use modern technology.

Indigenous peoples’ aspirations vary, too. In some cases, they may aspire to have legal, political, and social space to continue a way of life that they have developed over thousands of years. In other cases, they may aspire to find a way to balance the retention of their cultural uniqueness while also participating in the modern world. The authors of this course are attuned to this fact, even though a survey of contemporary Indigenous peoples’ aspirations is not covered in this course.

One characteristic that all Indigenous peoples share is a deep connection to their history. Although some people might consider the material we survey in this course to be ancient history, these events and stories form the basis of the relationship between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples. It’s important that anyone who might have interactions with Indigenous peoples (particularly in the context of mining) be aware of this.

Indigenous Peoples and Mining Series Background
The Indigenous Peoples and Mining series was developed to support mining professionals in understanding who Indigenous peoples are, how their rights and interests are recognized in standards and law, and to identify how contemporary mining activities impact Indigenous peoples.

All the world’s major mining regions are home to Indigenous peoples. As the Indigenous rights movement has gained momentum, the mining sector increasingly finds itself having to navigate challenging issues that arise as a result of exploration and extractive activities on or near Indigenous lands. Exacerbating such engagements is the remarkable speed of these political changes. When most present-day mining professionals were in school, Indigenous rights were not even on the radar. Indeed, even today—speaking especially from a global perspective—Indigenous issues are inadequately covered within the mining schools. To students and practitioners alike, the course series will be of interest to anyone active in mining today.

Upon completing the course series, participants will come away with an awareness of how contemporary mining activities fit within a long and dynamic story about Indigenous peoples—their existence, historical subjugation, cultural resiliency, and collective effort to gain recognition as distinct peoples with corresponding rights.”



Follow the link for the full article – Cultural Survival – https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/mining-indigenous-rights-emergence-global-social-movement

“Anyone who has seen the massive 900-page book entitled The Gulliver File (1992) will undoubtedly concur that for better or for worse anti-mining activism is a global social movement. This book lists mining projects and their parent companies around the world in alphabetical order and gives background history and environmental impact information (albeit from a particular activist perspective) about each project. A remarkable feature of this compendium is that so many of the listed projects involve indigenous peoples. While mining sites are geologically determined and hence the typical environmental justice arguments may not be so easily applicable to this observation, the disproportionate impact of mining on indigenous people deserves further attention and understanding.

The somewhat ambiguous title of this book refers to a speech made by Charles Barbour, the erstwhile President of the American Mining Congress, who referred to anti-mining activists in the following terms: “Like Gulliver, the mining industry is a robust giant held down by a million silk strings.” (Annual address to the American Mining Congress, 1981) Barbour estimated that activists had tacked an extra 15 cents onto the cost of producing every pound of refined metal in the United States. (Moody, 1992) The Gulliver File was the product of collaborative efforts among some 90 groups around the world that are working on anti-mining activism — many of whom have strong indigenous support even though the goals of indigenous communities are not often aligned with those of environmentalists.

Almost a decade after the book’s publication, mining activities on and around indigenous lands continue to grow while amicable and equitable agreements between indigenous communities and mining companies are still few and far between. Instead of applying generic political theories to this phenomenon, we need to understand the unique characteristics of both mining and indigenous communities in order to find a way forward.

How is Mining Different from Other Industries?

Mining can be classified as a kind of “windfall development” similar to the establishment of a casino in an impoverished neighborhood, ushering in a sudden influx of wealth to a community. Mining, however, represents a kind of windfall development very different from other projects (such as casinos, stadiums, or army bases) because of its inherent obsolescence. Most mines have a lifetime of a few decades or less. Furthermore, mining companies can often have monopsony power over their areas of operation (a monopoly implies one seller of goods or services, while a monopsony entails a sole buyer of goods or services). In other words, mining companies have tremendous leverage in their areas of operation because they are often the only source of stable employment and infrastructure development.

Whether or not environmental and human rights concerns should be means to an end or ends in themselves is a timeless normative debate. The consequences of corporate behavior, however, can — and should — be evaluated on their own merits, without insinuation of motives.

That being said, we must still recognize the historical conduct of mining companies on a global scale and not deny the offenses that have led to their contemporary caricature. Perhaps the most persistent negative image of mining companies emanates from the narratives of mining life in Southern Africa where the institution of Apartheid was too often used to the benefit of mining companies, and vice versa. The management strategies of large multinational mining companies, most of which have had operations in Africa, were often quite secretive, thus fueling conspiracy theories. In the words of one De Beers executive: “We stride across Africa in a very satisfactory way in all sorts of strange places. Part of the secret is we respect confidences. We don’t talk much.” (Kanfer, 1993)

While many of the misgivings about secrecy and human rights violations by mining companies have diminished over the years, examples recur of notably disturbing ventures — though multinational mining companies are not always involved in these cases. The civil war in Sierra Leone, for example, is largely a resource war between rebels (who control much of the diamond mining in the east of the country) and the democratic government. The same is largely true of the strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with its diamond and cobalt mines, and the continuing civil strife in Angola (one of the most resource-rich countries in the world).

Even the recent war in Kosovo has been described by a notable New York Times reporter as being largely about mineral resources surrounding the Stari Trg mining complex. (Hedges, 1998) According to the mine’s director, Novak Bjelic, “The war in Kosovo is about the mines, nothing else. This is Serbia’s Kuwait.””


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

Mysterious giant dust particles

Mysterious giant dust particles found at gravity-defying distances
by University of Reading

Read the full article at Phys.org – https://phys.org/news/2018-12-mysterious-giant-particles-gravity-defying-distances.html

“An unknown influence is allowing giant dust particles to spread around the world and could be contributing to global warming, scientists have found.

Large dust particles from the Sahara Desert have been found up to 3500 km away in the Caribbean. These were nearly 50 times bigger than scientists thought was possible to be transported such a distance via global winds.

Dust affects the delicate balance between incoming sunlight and heat emitted from Earth, tropical cyclone development and the formation of clouds. The scientists say the large particles’ role in the atmosphere, with their unexpected long-range effects, should be included in climate models in future.

Professor Giles Harrison, Professor of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Reading, and a co-author of the study, said: “These dust particles are whipped up from the Sahara Desert and carried between continents, and most people know them best when they end up settling on our cars or cause the kind of eerie orange skies we saw a year ago.

“However, existing ideas do not allow for such massive particles travelling in the atmosphere for such vast distances, suggesting that there is some as-yet-unknown atmospheric process or combination of processes keeping them airborne. Charging of the particles and associated electric forces is one avenue being explored.

“This evidence of dust and ash being carried so far is significant because these particles influence radiation transfer around the Earth and carbon cycles in the oceans.”

Role of large dust particles ‘underestimated’

The research, led by the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), is published today in Science Advances.

Winds carry dust particles from the Sahara west over the Atlantic Ocean. The researchers collected desert dust in floating buoys and underwater sediment traps in five locations in the Atlantic Ocean between 2013 and 2016.

It was previously thought the size of the particles in this cloud ranged from 0.01-0.02mm in diameter, but scientists found particles measuring 0.45mm in samples in the Caribbean.

The scientists argue this means the role of large dust particles, especially quartz, in both cloud formation and the carbon cycle in the oceans has been underestimated. The role of the particles is largely neglected in computer models used to explain and predict climate change because they have not been thought to persist in the atmosphere.

The research also suggests the amount of dust removed from the atmosphere by rain, rather than gravity, is greater than previously assumed. ”


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Uranium in mine dust – health risk

An interesting article on the health risk posed by uranium that is present in mine dust.

Uranium in mine dust - health risk

Uranium in mine dust could dissolve in human lungs
by American Chemical Society

Article found at Phys.org  – https://phys.org/news/2018-12-uranium-dissolve-human-lungs.html

“New Mexico contains hundreds of historic uranium mines. Although active uranium mining in the state has ceased, rates of cardiovascular and metabolic disease remain high in the population residing close to mines within the Navajo Nation. According to a new study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, inhaled uranium in dusts from the mines could be a factor.

Uranium ore is weakly radioactive, which could damage DNA and cause disease. However, the chemical toxicity of uranium may be a greater risk than its radioactivity. In laboratory studies, uranium that was depleted of its most radioactive isotope still caused DNA damage and cell death. Small particles of uranium-containing dust could be inhaled by people and penetrate deep within their lungs. But scientists haven’t studied whether uranium can leach from minerals in the dust into lung fluids and the bloodstream. So Gayan Rubasinghege and colleagues wanted to determine if uranium in dust samples from a mining region in New Mexico could dissolve in simulated lung fluids.

To find out, the researchers collected airborne dust samples from five sites near uranium mines close to communities. They identified minerals in the dust samples, which varied by location. All of the dust samples contained one or more uranium-containing minerals, such as uraninite or carnotite. Then, the researchers exposed two simulated lung fluids—one that mimics the fluid that surrounds lung cells, and another that simulates the acidic environment in lung immune cells that engulf dust particles—to the dust and measured the amounts of uranium dissolved in each fluid. The mineral composition of the dust influenced its solubility, with some minerals dissolving more readily in one fluid than the other. These results indicate that toxicological assessments of mining lands should focus on specific sites, instead of making broad generalizations, the researchers say.”


Medical Express – https://medicalxpress.com/news/2007-05-depleted-uranium-health-hazard.html

“Depleted uranium may post health hazard
A U.S. study suggests exposure to particles of depleted uranium might increase the risk of genetic damage and lung cancer.

Depleted uranium is the material remaining after removal or depletion of the U-238 isotope. With a density about twice that of lead, depleted uranium is ideal for use in military armor and munitions.

But now John Pierce Wise Sr. and colleagues at the University of Southern Maine have discovered depleted uranium dust produced in combat creates potentially frequent and widespread exposure for soldiers and non-combatants inhaling such dust particles.

In their study, the researchers tested the effects of depleted uranium dust on cultures of human lung cells.

“These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant genotoxic risk and could possibly result in lung cancer,” the scientists said.

The study is to be reported in the May 21 issue of the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International”



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Burning Sugarcane

A controversial issue in Florida, USA.  Please follow the link to read the full article.


New Food Economy – https://newfoodeconomy.org/palm-beach-florida-sugar-companies-sued-controversial-burning-sugarcane/

Burning Sugarcane

“Florida sugar companies hit with lawsuit to halt the controversial practice of burning sugarcane

Residents in America’s top sugar-producing county say the burning leads to increased infant mortality, asthma, and “black snow.”

June 6th, 2019 by Sam Bloch

The burning starts in October, when sugarcane companies begin to set fire to nearly 400,000 acres on the shores of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, clearing away the leaves to prepare the plants for harvest. When the flames die down, machines roll in to chop down the stalks and shunt them off to nearby mills for processing.

For the people who live nearby, the burning means something else. Every year, for eight months, bursts of thick smoke billow from the fields into the air, causing an ash the locals call “black snow” to drift down from the sky. The particles coat their homes, their cars, and their clothes. They’re ingested by children, who develop higher rates of asthma, and by expectant mothers, who are more likely to lose the pregnancy.

That’s according to two residents, Clover Coffie and Jennie Thompson, who on Tuesday filed a federal class-action lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida. The plaintiffs are seeking damages from the negative health effects of burning sugar cane fields, a practice that the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports has been going on for decades.

The lawsuit accuses U.S. Sugar, Florida Crystals, and the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida—three of the country’s largest sugar companies—and 10 other growers and refiners, of negligence, liability for the damages caused by the burning, and trespassing (for the ash that lands on private property). In their complaint, Coffie and Thompson ask the court to force the companies to stop burning, and to set up a medical monitoring program for over 40,000 people—the population of the “affected area,” which comprises three zip codes in Palm Beach County.

“They would be monitoring the health of the residents there who have been exposed to pollutants from sugar cane burning in order to identify and begin to treat any health conditions that are created in that population as a result of the sugar cane burning,” said Zach West, an attorney who filed the suit, at a press conference. “We’re also seeking full reimbursement for the depression of property values in that area related to the sugar cane burning. The costs of such a program are going to be enormous.”

The Sun Sentinel reports West was joined by former Florida state senator Joe Abruzzo and Frank Biden, brother of Joe, both of whom work for the Berman Law Group. Standing with them was Fred Taylor, a former NFL running back who grew up breathing black snow in Belle Glade, Florida, where the town motto is “her soil is her fortune.”

A tall, perennial grass that resembles bamboo, sugarcane is an essential source of the refined sugar we eat in America. The plant accounts for 40 percent of all sweeteners consumed, according to Jack Roney, the director of policy for the American Sugar Alliance. Corn syrup and beet sugar account for the rest.

The crop thrives in tropical climates; in America, it is grown in the Louisiana Delta and the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The primary growing state is Florida, however, where the sugarcane industry took off after the U.S. stopped imports from Cuba in 1960, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Today, the Sunshine State is responsible for up to 17 million tons of sugarcane harvest every year, grown principally in the acreage along the southern and southeastern shores of Lake Okeechobee. Palm Beach, where the plaintiffs live, is by far its most productive county. Yet the fields are “so compact that most Florida visitors never even see a sugarcane field,” the state Farm Bureau gloats.

And this is where the burning comes in. During the growing season, from October to April, growers set their fields aflame to rid the plants of leaves and vegetation, leaving “nothing standing but the cane,” as an environmental engineer puts it. That’s partly a matter of harvesting efficiency, but also, burning can evaporate the water in the stalks, which bumps up their sugar content, the lawsuit alleges.

The sugar industry, for its part, says that burning off all that sugar-free biomass isn’t just about getting the most out of the yield, or harvesting more efficiently. Other alternatives, like mulching the leaves, are “just not feasible,” the president of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative told the Sun-Sentinel, because leaving them on the ground would smother the next crop growing in the muck. That’s disputed by environmentalists like the Sierra Club, who allege that sugarcane growers in Australia and Brazil have been able harvest without burning, and that there are other uses for the leaves (e.g., creating biofuels).

Clearly, the practice is controversial: Michael Grisham, who leads sugarcane research for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, refused to comment to The New Food Economy on the efficacy of pre-harvest burning, saying that while there could be agricultural benefits like higher yields, growers were nevertheless “sensitive” to related health issues. Like, for example, the kidney damage that sugarcane field workers suffer, and respiratory issues suffered by people who come into contact with the smoke. Arturo Rojas, a chemical and environmental engineer, cautioned residents in San Antonio to stay inside during the “May Murkies,” or the annual haze caused by burning sugarcane fields, drifting up from Mexico.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs also allege that the “black snow” from the fires discolors cars, homes, and office buildings, which incurs cleanup costs and tanks property values.

Other effects are more lethal. During the harvest season, the plaintiffs allege, residents breath air concentrated with toxic particles, at a rate that’s 15 times higher than it is in the summer. As a result, mothers fret about “putting their kids to bed at night” while the cane is burning, according to a video the attorneys released. One mother, who has lived in Belle Glade for 23 years, said her four-month-old son has already been diagnosed with asthma. All told, Abruzzo said, there were nearly 700 asthma-related hospitalizations for every 100,000 residents in Palm Beach County, which the Sun Sentinel says is almost five times the state average.

What’s particularly galling, according to Abruzzo, is that this is disproportionately affecting poor people. He says he wasn’t aware of the issue until 2017, when the wind shifted and blew ashes into Boca Raton, causing an uproar among “politically active retirees,” as the Sun-Sentinel put it. Generally, he says, the sugar companies will only burn the fields when the wind blows west, which disperses the ash onto the poorer communities of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay.”


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Lunar Dust Clouds

And now for a trip to the moon………

Lunar Dust Clouds

Scientists explain formation of lunar dust clouds – Phys.org https://phys.org/news/2019-01-scientists-formation-lunar-clouds.html

“Physicists from the Higher School of Economics and Space Research Institute have identified a mechanism explaining the appearance of two dusty plasma clouds resulting from a meteoroid that impacted the surface of the moon. The study was published in JETP Letters.

The collision of a meteoroid with the surface of the moon greatly changes the properties of the surrounding dusty plasma system by throwing a large quantity of lunar soil-regolith debris—dust particles measuring 10 to 100 microns—into the otherwise relatively unsullied exosphere.

In 2015, astronomers at the Garden Observatory in Gordola (Switzerland) observed a similar phenomenon when they recorded an optical flash resulting from a meteoroid impacting the moon. An international group of scientists using data from astronomical observations concluded that a fairly large and fast-moving meteoroid had impacted the moon, raising two clouds of unknown composition.

Russian researchers from the Higher School of Economics, Space Research Institute (IKI), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Sternberg Astronomical Institute, and Far Eastern Federal University determined that a meteoroid collision with the surface of the moon produces a shock wave that throws up regolith fragments and droplets of molten material into the surrounding free space. Those fragments and hardened molten droplets rise above the surface of the moon, interact with the electrons in the solar wind and solar radiation, and become electrically charged. Two dusty plasma clouds form as a result—one composed of regolith fragments and a second of hardened droplets of molten material. The differing characteristics of the two clouds make it possible to observe them separately.

Scientists have calculated the main characteristics of the clouds—the speed at which they expand, the size, number density, and electrical charge of the particles in each, and so on. The calculations and observational data matched. It was found that a cloud formed by hardened droplets of molten material expands significantly faster than a cloud formed by regolith fragments.

“Lunar dust is a significant risk factor for spacecraft, equipment, and the astronauts’ health,” explained study co-author, HSE Faculty of Physics Professor, and Space Research Institute Laboratory Head Sergey Popel. “Equipment covered with dust can malfunction. Astronauts carry dust on their spacesuits into the lunar module where it becomes suspended weightlessly in the air, causing them to inhale the particles during their entire return trip to Earth. Therefore, understanding the mechanism by which dusty plasma clouds are formed is important for ensuring the safety of space flights to the moon.””


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Dust Monitoring Equipment and Servicing. Dust Monitor Supply. Dust monitoring training. Dust Monitoring Services to our clients in the field of occupational health and hygiene engineering. Art and science of dust control.

Omgewing & Hygiene Engineering – die verskaffing van toerusting, dienste en opleiding in stofuitskot bestuur om die mynbedryf.

Dust and Eyesight

We all know that dust affects our breathing and the health of our lungs – but it also affects our eyes……..


Barracloughs News – https://www.barracloughs.net/news/item/1438-how-air-quality-can-affect-your-eyesight

Sally Phillips

“How Air Quality Can Affect Your Eyesight
40% of the world’s garbage ends up in the air* after burning thus releasing millions of toxins, according to an air quality study by the Global Healing Center. It is damning that inhaling this kind of air cuts off 1-2 years of human life. Most often, air in urban areas is more contaminated due to industrialisation. The eye is a very sensitive organ and irritants such as dust and smoke have both a short term and long-term effect. Short-term effects include itchiness, tearfulness, soreness and red eyes. On the other hand, the effects of overly long exposure to these dust particles, or smoke often lead to conditions such as dry eye syndrome as witnessed in areas adversely affected by air pollution such as Beijing, which has occasions of smog.

Just what is dry eye syndrome?
Tears are made of three main components that are water, mucus and oil. The water is the moisturising component whilst the oil helps to keep this water from evaporating too quickly. Additionally, the mucus is what ensures an entire moisture coat across the eye. Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by low eye tear production or excessive evaporation of the tears produced by the eye glands. All this is a result of pollutants in the air and it is a fact that the air outside our homes is cleaner than that inside and there are several hacks to clean it up.

Prevention and Treatment of Dry eye syndrome
Dry eye, has a varying number of remedies ranging from natural ones to artificial ones. As for the natural interventions, it is encouraged that we regularly consume fish rich in Omega 3 to replenish the natural oil reservoir of the eyes. As for the artificial interventions, eye drops are a good alternative.

How to protect one’s eyes from poor air quality
It is possible to alleviate the problem of air pollution and its resultant effects such as dry eye by drinking enough water. Staying hydrated in turn replenishes the eyes fluid reservoir. This is in line with the usual doctors’ advice of at least 8 litres of fluids daily. Another good solution is wearing helmets and glasses when riding and swimming to protect the eye from dust and other particles. However, it has been proven that installation of air conditioners greatly helps avert the effects of low air quality on the eyes.”

dust and eyesight

Rebuild your Visionhttps://www.rebuildyourvision.com/blog/interesting-vision-facts/what-air-pollution-does-to-eyes-and-vision/

“What Air Pollution Does to Eyes and Vision
Air pollution, no doubt, has had numerous health impacts on humans. But when it comes to air pollution in relation to eyes and vision, there seems to be a gap. This phenomenon has not been studied in depth in the way that perhaps pollution in relation to our pulmonary system has, but there is evidence to suggest that pollution is hurting our eyes.

Our eyes are incredibly vulnerable and sensitive. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of getting dust or sand in your eyes (which everyone is likely to have experienced at least once), then you know the irritation and discomfort involved. Though pollution is a little sneakier than dust and sand, it can have an equal or worse effect on our eyes in the long run.

A study in the Ophthalmology Journal in 2018 found a strong link between urban pollution and ophthalmological emergencies; substances in the air can cause tears and irritation in the eyes’ surface. Though fewer studies have been done around the world, reports from Beijing, China and the India Times seem to suggest that vision health is being affected by smog and other forms of air pollution.

Dry Eye Syndrome and Pollution

The most frequently reported vision problem that is most probably linked to air pollution is dry eyes. This is especially common in places like Beijing, where air pollution is found in the form of smog (a combination of smoke and fog). Fog may be harmless enough, but smoke can be incredibly harmful to the eyes.

Though an exact cause as to why pollution causes dry eyes has yet to be found, researchers suggest that it may have to do with the lack of humidity in highly polluted areas. Areas with higher humidity are less likely to suffer from pollution-related dry eyes.”


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National Days of Health and Safety

We are glad to see that the mining industry is taking health and safety seriously!  Read what the Mining Review and Fin24 have to say about the upcoming national days of health and safety.

National Days of Health and Safety

South Africa to hold national days of health and safety

Mining Reviewhttps://www.miningreview.com/industry-insight/south-africa-hold-national-days-health-and-safety/

“The Minerals Council South Africa is disappointed by the increase in fatalities experienced in the mining industry over the last two years.

In addition to the active steps being taken by the Minerals Council and its members to address these recent events, and to get the industry’s quest for Zero Harm back on track, the Minerals Council will lead a national campaign of Safety & Health Days in Mining 2018, to be launched in mid-August.

While arrangements for each member company’s Safety & Health Day are still being finalised, Minerals Council President, Mxolisi Mgojo, says:

“This day will mark both the remembrance of those whose lives have been lost in mining, and a renewed and absolute commitment by all member companies to safety and health of employees as the primary objective of every company.

“During the month of August, every member company will initiate its own Safety & Health Day at its operations representing a visible commitment that safety and health is the foremost priority to the industry’s leadership.

“In recognising that safety and health is a collaborative effort and responsibility, we will be reaching out to and working closely with the Department of Mineral Resources and all unions.”

Mgojo notes that the spate of unrelated accidents since 2017, has resulted in a rising fatality trend after more than 20 years of almost uninterrupted improvements in fatality rate improvements.

Between 1993 and 2016 the fatality rate fell by 88%, largely as a result of the concerted efforts by companies, the regulator and labour.

The Minerals Council believes that the current situation is unsatisfactory, and is further intensifying its work with its members to address both the spate of recent accidents, and the need to go further towards the elimination of all accidents and incidents at work.

The most serious accidents of 2018 – in which there have been several multiple fatality incidents – have been very different in nature.

These range from falls of ground following a seismic event, to employees accessing old areas, to an underground fire.

Intensive investigations are being undertaken around each incident, and these take time.

Their outcomes will provide greater insight and guidance on the way forward.

When the downward trend in fatalities showed signs of reversing last year, the Minerals Council mobilised its resources and members, in an effort to address the accidents and incidents that were occurring.

Initial indications showed an increase in falls of ground, specifically related to seismic events.

A Mining Industry Occupational Safety and Health Fall of Ground task team was established, and leading practices on rock bursts, in particular, are being reviewed.

The findings will be shared across the industry.

Addressing fall of ground incidents, particularly at deep-level mines, is an area that joint industry efforts have focused on most intensively over the past several years.

This focus is reflected in the more than R150 million that the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) has invested in gravity falls of ground research.

Through the MHSC, more than R250 million has been spent on research into the seismicity associated with deep-level mines.

The research outcomes have led to new mine designs and methods and, until last year, continuous improvements in outcomes.

A critical element of the Minerals Council’s leadership role was the establishment in 2012 of the CEO Zero Harm Forum to acknowledge the value of leading by example.

The Forum, comprising mining company CEOs, meets on a quarterly basis and directs and guides industry’s efforts in respect of safety and health.

One of the first focus areas was on falls of ground, the greatest contributor to fatalities at the time.

This work led to some of the vast improvements that have been seen in this area.

Following the next CEO Zero Harm Forum on 17 August 2018, it will share publicly some of its current and planned initiatives.

An area that is of great concern to all stakeholders is the need to empower employees to withdraw from work should they feel unsafe, and for supervisors to be trained to encourage and deal with such situations.

Many companies have undertaken training in this regard, and the Minerals Council will be embarking on an initiative to learn from those areas of leading practice and to ensure these lessons are shared across the sector.

“The industry recognises that much more needs to be done. The Minerals Council and its members will continue to work with its stakeholders, including government and organised labour, to protect the occupational health and safety of all mineworkers, and in our quest for Zero Harm,” concludes Mgojo.”


Fin 24 – https://m.fin24.com/Companies/Mining/mining-industry-to-tackle-unacceptable-rise-in-deaths-20180820-3

“There have been 58 mining deaths in 2018 alone, up from 51 in 2017, which was also an increase from the 2016 fatality figures.

Sibanye-Stillwater [JSE:SGL] has accounted for 20 of these deaths, and faces the wrath of trade unions and the Department of Mineral Resources.

CEO Neal Froneman said the high number of fatalities at their operations has been “traumatic”.

“We’ve stumbled as an industry. We’ve definitely stumbled, but our resolve is clear and evident in terms of getting back on track and breaking through the barrier and getting back down to our zero-harm targets,” Froneman told the media after the launch on Friday.

Under apartheid, scores of people died every year in unsafe working conditions in the mining industry.

The Minerals Council of SA, previously the Chamber of Mines, points out an 80% improvement in safety over the last two decades and the industry is working towards goal of zero-harm by 2024.

Trade unions have blamed mining companies for pressuring miners to work in unsafe conditions and putting profit over lives. But Minerals Council Vice President: Andile Sangqu said there wasn’t one single reason behind the rise in fatalities, as the accidents have been of a different nature: falls of rock, underground fires and employees entering unsafe areas.

Froneman, who is also a Vice President of the Minerals Council, said that improving safety was a combination of continuously engineering out risk and changing people’s attitudes to encourage them to withdraw from unsafe conditions.

Production at all costs?

According to Chris Griffith, CEO of Anglo-American Platinum and head of the CEO’s zero-harm forum, mining bosses are required to be visible to set the example from the top down and show that it’s not about production at all costs.

He said that some of the successful changes made include reducing miners’ exposure when entering a workplace for the first time after blasting, and introducing bolts and nets inside mining stopes.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has demanded that mines invest in seismic detection technologies, but Froneman says that there are no instruments currently on the market to foresee vibrations and earthquakes.

Seismic activity can lead to falls of ground, a contributing factor to mining deaths underground.

Froneman said that the layout and engineering of mines must be able to withstand seismic activity and ensure no workers are harmed.

The highest number of fatalities are in the gold and platinum sectors, as these are labour intensive, and mining companies in the gold sector work on narrow tabular reefs where no practical mechanisation has yet been developed to replace human beings.

Companies in the two sectors; Lonmin [JSE:LON], Impala Platinum [JSE:IMP] and Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] are planning to retrench more than 27 000 workers within the next three years. However, Dr Sizwe Phakathi, the head of safety and sustainable development, doesn’t believe the rise in mining accidents is related to the looming job losses.

Phakathi pointed to Lonmin, which is planning to retrench 12 600 workers over the next three years, while the company has managed to avoid any fatalities for over a year.

Chief Inspector at the Department of Mineral Resources David Msiza said the industry could not continue to talk about zero-harm but not show demonstrable results.

“We do receive complaints that employees are being victimised after withdrawing from unsafe conditions,” Msiza said.

Correction: This article was updated to clarify that Chris Griffith is the CEO of Anglo-American Platinum, and not of Anglo-American.


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

Fallout Dust Monitoring course – July 2019

Good day

The next Fallout Dust Monitoring course is in July 2019 in Rustenburg

 24 – 26 July 2019 – Rustenburg

The costs are in the attached files, R4400 per person per day.

If you would like to attend or to send a representative, then please email chris@dustwatch.com or call 021 789 0847 or 082 875 0209 to reserve a place.

Please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any queries, comments, or suggestions.


Chris Loans

DustWatch CC – Precipitant Dust Monitoring

082 875 0209 or 021 789 0847 (Chris)

083 308 4764 (Gerry)

021 789 0847 (Cape Town)

011 083 8750 (Johannesburg)

+1 832 422 5031 (USA)

0866 181 421 (Fax – SA Only)



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Cosmic Dust

We found a recent article about a researcher sent to the Antarctic to search out cosmic dust………….. Enjoy!


Phys.org – https://phys.org/news/2019-04-nrl-ventures-arctic-cosmic.html

NRL researcher ventures to the Antarctic in search of cosmic dust

by Cassandra Eichner, Naval Research Laboratory

“After arriving at McMurdo Station on the unforgiving continent of Antarctica, it still took Dr. Rhonda Stroud two days of safety training and a four-hour flight before she was finally where she needed to be: the bottom of the world.

For two years, Stroud, a physicist with the Naval Research Laboratory, had been working on an experiment to collect atmospheric dust, also known as cosmic dust, at the South Pole. Now the experiment was wrapping up, and she had embarked on a three-week stay to collect the samples, and dismantle the collection apparatus. According to Stroud, the South Pole is an ideal spot for cosmic dust collection because it has some of the purest air on our planet.

The information obtained from her research will provide researchers with clues to the origins of our solar system: the formation of planets, the composition of comets and asteroids, and the evolution of the primordial gas and dust into the Earth and life as we know it today.

“Cosmic dust is entering our atmosphere at about 40,000 tons enter per year, and it’s coming from asteroids and comets,” Stroud said. “So this cosmic dust is the preserved fragments of building blocks from the start of the solar system.”

At the South Pole, Stroud collected her samples using a machine aptly named a “comic dust sucker.” She described the device much like a vacuum cleaner or air purifier—but unlike the refuse collected by those household devices, the dust this device collects is invaluable—not just to Stroud but to researchers around the world.

“The “Dust Sucker” is housed in a small hut, with a pipe that looked like a stove vent pipe pointed out from the hut into the clean air sector,” she explained. “We used a big fan and blower to suck air through the pipe. The dust was deposited on filters similar to those you might find in a home air purifier.”

During her stay at the South Pole, Stroud braved wind chill temperatures as low as 40 below zero to collect her research samples, and eventually, deconstruct the cosmic dust sucker. Her carefully collected samples were then wrapped, stored, and transported to project partners at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL).

Once the samples and Stroud were back stateside, Stroud’s job was far from over. She and her project partners still had to undertake a microscopic analysis of the samples to find the cosmic dust hidden inside. In addition to collecting cosmic dust, the filters can pick up particles of aluminum from the collection pipe itself, among other things.

“The cosmic dust particles themselves are tiny, maybe 10 microns, about one-tenth of a human hair,” she said. “You can’t see them with your eye. We often use an electron microscope because that lets us see things in great detail and measure their composition.”
Among the more surprising finds they came across during their analysis was particles of talc, a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate that Stroud said researchers don’t expect to derive from a comet or asteroid.

“We couldn’t rule out it as a strange and new component of a comet…until I saw a weather balloon that they released at the South Pole,” Stroud said. “They do climate monitoring there and release balloons twice a day. Those latex balloons are covered in talc so when they’re packaged they don’t stick together.”

While the discovery of talc hadn’t amounted to anything, countless possibilities are still waiting to be discovered in the dust, according to Stroud, and thousands of people in the planetary science community are curious to know the results.

“Some [researchers] would like to make isotope measurements that would tell them where in the solar system or when the particles formed,” she said. “They might make noble gas measurements, measure the amount of helium or argon to tell how long [the particles] were exposed in space.”

“Others will want to know what minerals were formed there,” she added. “So they would look at the elemental competition and crystal structure.”

Over the next several months, other project collaborators will inspect the two years’ worth collection of cosmic dust. The principal investigator for the project is Susan Tailor at CRELL laboratory, and the project is funded by the NASA planetary science division. Partners include academic and research institutions.”


ESA Herschel – http://herschel.cf.ac.uk/science/infrared/dust

Cosmic Dust

“The Universe is a very dusty place. Cosmic dust consists of tiny particles of solid material floating around in the space between the stars. It is not the same as the dust you find in your house but more like smoke with small particles varying from collections of just a few molecules to grains of 0.1 mm in size. Dust is important because we find lots of it around young stars. In fact it helps them to form, and it is also the raw material from which planets like the Earth are formed.

The diagram below illustrates the cosmic dust cycle. Dust is formed in stars and is then blown off in a slow wind or a massive star explosion. The dust is then ‘recycled’ in the clouds of gas between stars and some of it is consumed when the next generation of stars begins to form. Astronomers used to consider dust as a nuisance because it absorbs the visible light from objects, keeping them hidden from our optical telescopes making the Universe appear very dark and hiding a lot of interesting things from us. But these dusty clouds have silver linings, however. When astronomers started to use infrared cameras, they discovered that the annoying cosmic dust is actually very interesting and important to lots of astronomical processes. The dust converts the stolen starlight it absorbs into light at longer wavelengths. Astronomers can see the dust shining using special instruments sensitive to the far-infrared and submillimetre part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Herschel is designed to work at these wavelengths, and will be able to see the dust shining at temperatures between 8 and 100 K.”


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