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Part Seven - In 2013 NIOSH Adds an Eighth Source of Respirable Silica Dust: Workers' Clothing

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 11:53 -- Donny Beaver

More than a year after listing the seven points of worker exposure to respirable silica dust in hydraulic fracturing operations, the same NIOSH researchers published an article outlining an eighth (8th) primary point of dust release and generation in the July 2013 American Industrial Hygiene Association magazine, The Synergist – “Keeping Up with the Oil and Gas Rush.” The authors, Eric Esswein and Ryan Hill, noted “work clothing (for example, flame retardant coveralls) contaminated with crystalline silica” is considered a dust release or generation point. In addition, they pointed out that hydraulic fracturing companies should consider a variety of dust generation controls including, “methods to clean silica-containing dusts that contaminate workers’ clothing”. Hazardous dust on workers’ clothing has long been recognized as a health hazard not only for workers, but also for their family members. In 1913, authors William Tolman and Leonard Kendall observed, “occupational disease specialists recommend that workers exposed to hazardous materials should change clothes before leaving the workplace to avoid contamination of the home environment.” Safety: Methods for Preventing Occupational and Other Accidents and Disease (New York: Harper & Brothers) pages 248-9. In 2005, NIOSH produced a report for the silica sand mining industry titled, Reducing Respirable Dust Exposure of Workers Using an Improved Clothes Cleaning Process pointing out the dangers of dusty work clothing in which they stated, “One area of known worker exposure throughout all industries is from contaminated work clothing…a former U.S. Bureau of Mines report documented a number of workers that experienced a ten-fold increase in dust exposure over previous levels form an experience that significantly soiled the worker’s clothing.” The report goes on, “The respirable dust concentrations on the workers’ lapel after these occurrences indicated their Time Weighted Average (TWA) concentration would exceed the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) in two hours or less. As these individuals performed their work duties, dust was continuously emitted from their clothing and the only way to eliminate the dust source was to clean or change their work clothing.” Further, “contaminated work clothing is not only a hazard to the workers themselves, but a number of studies have also discussed the potential for taking the contaminant home and exposing family members.” Up Next: Part Eight: HalenHardy Discovers Ten More Sources of Respirable Silica in Hydraulic Fracturing © 2013 Donald Beaver – HalenHardy, LLC – All rights reserved. HalenHardy LLC, specializes in protecting workers from airborne dangerous dusts and operates from its headquarters in Bellwood, PA, near the epicenter of Marcellus Shale exploration & production region. Our innovative MASHH Mobile Air Showers by HalenHardy protect workers by removing hazardous dust from their clothing. Respirable dust can only be adequately addressed by a combination of engineering and administrative controls and personal protection equipment including fit-tested respirators and an air shower. While an air shower is essential it will not on its own protect workers against the risks of breathing in respirable dust.