Construction sites and open-pit mining operations have long had a reputation of being poor neighbours in their local communities. They are dusty, loud, and an eyesore. The noise they produce can be a major irritant and lead to numerous complaints. However, of greater importance is the potential health-related dangers of the dust they release into the air.
While most people find dust to be annoying when it settles on and dirties vehicles and property; it is the unseen particles, in particular respirable crystalline silica, that have been found to present health and safety risks including cancer. The dangers presented by dust exposure have been found to be so severe that increasingly strict regulations have been implemented as of 1 September 2020. That is, the occupational exposure limits (OEL) for respirable dust and respirable crystalline silica (RCS) have been significantly reduced to 1.5mg/m3 and 0.05mg/m3 respectively by Australian authorities. This poses the question of how to suppress dust levels in the air. One solution is by utilising water trucks.
Water trucks for dust suppression
One of the most reliable methods of dust control is by spraying water on the source of dust. Water trucks are utilised to patrol the worksite and cover exposed areas with water to counteract the release of dust into the air. Keeping the surface ground damp helps to prevent equipment operations and vehicular traffic from generating dust and is very beneficial for workers and nearby residences. Specifically, the water is sprayed on the ground using a misting system. These systems can be stationary in problem areas or made mobile by mounting them on trucks or trailers. They come in several varieties depending on how the mist is generated but all function in much the same way.
A misting system generates a fine mist of water which is sprayed into the air. The mist performs two functions that each help control dust pollution. First, the mist itself quickly traps any dust particles that are suspended in the air and settles them to the ground. This stops the particles being carried airborne for long distances and is for the benefit of those nearby (who can actually be quite far away, as airborne dust travels easily). Secondly, the mist produced by the water truck will keeps the soil in the worksite damp and help prevent dust from being generated in the future. These two actions combined have been found to be very effective in controlling particulate pollution; this establishes water trucks as an invaluable resource when dust suppression is needed.
Water trucks are both cost-effective and environmentally friendly when compared to other methods that use synthetic chemicals which can be expensive or damaging to the environment. In particular, chloride is a lasting component of many alternative dust suppressants which can be harmful to both the environment and infrastructure.
If you are in need of a dust suppression solution in the Brisbane, Gladstone or the Mackay areas, Safe Dig can supply your water truck requirements. We have a large fleet of 9,000 – 11,000L tanker trucks that service the Brisbane, and Mackay areas and are capable of supplying the misting systems for dust suppression for projects large and small.
Our accredited standpipe operators are available round-the-clock to provide projects with dust suppression spraying as well as other services such as vegetation watering. Safe Dig specialised dust suppression units and operators have years of experience in a wide variety of work environments, so contact our team to arrange your dust suppression solution.
Why do I need a water truck? Health risks of dust exposure
What are the health risks associated with dust exposure? Few people ever give dust much thought past what gathers around the house. Unless there’s so much dust that they experience breathing or visibility problems, its effect on their health is for the most part ignored. Dust is specifically dry material that is fine enough to become suspended in the air or settle on the ground. As such, many materials can be a constituent of dust. Some of the worst constituents are silica, asbestos and other known carcinogens. Clearly the health risk presented by dust is dependent on what is in the dust.