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How to Clean Up Construction Dust

Construction sites are buzzing with activity. It seems like everywhere you look, you will find a tradesman working on a specific aspect of the project. And the activity is virtually continuous until the project is completed. All of that activity generates dust which fills the air and must be cleaned up. In this article we will look at why there is so much dust on construction sites, what kinds of dust are generated, and how to clean up construction dust.

Why So Much Construction Dust?

During construction, there are a number of phases of the project's construction in which basic tasks generate dust. Some of the construction tasks that generate dust include:

  • Sanding
  • Cutting
  • Shaping
  • Grinding
  • Drilling
  • Smoothing
  • Polishing

It may seem obvious that one of the ways to make cleaning up construction dust easier is to reduce the amount of dust that settles on surfaces in the first place. This can be done using industrial dry dust collectors if the part of the construction project is done off location. Or if it is done on site, a portable dust collector might be sufficient to remove a significant amount of dust from the work area.

Even if you elect to make use of dust collection equipment and reduce the amount of airborne particulates, you will most likely still need to have a clean up plan. This is because there are so many kinds (or types) of construction dust generated on a project. Let's consider just some of them.

Types of Construction Dust

As we mentioned above, several construction tasks generate dust. Depending on which material the artisan is using and which task is being performed, dust will be generated. We will briefly look at some task and material combinations that generate dust.

Wood Dust

One of the most noticeable sources of dust is wood. Wood dust is generated on construction sites when lumber, plywood, and other wooden materials are sanded, cut, drilled, or otherwise shaped. Therefore wood dust is everywhere on a construction site. Even work done on wood materials off location results in furnishings such as kitchen cabinetry arriving with dust on the surface. So, wood dust is one of the types of construction dust to consider when contemplating dust clean up.

Drywall Dust

Another type of construction dust that is common on job sites is drywall dust. Much like wood, drywall is used in virtually every room of a project. Additionally, the cutting of drywall, drilling, and smoothing or sanding the surface of the material generates dust that permeates the environment and then settles on surfaces. These particulates often times appear to resemble smoke, or a cloud of some sort. Upon settling on surfaces this dust film (or layer) must be cleaned up. For this reason, drywall dust must be included in our consideration of kinds of construction dust.

Ceramic Dust

The next kind of construction dust that becomes the target of clean up efforts that we will briefly mention is ceramic dust. Included in this type of construction dust are tile dust and porcelain dust. Working with ceramics generates dust because the material is so hard. In fact, ceramics require special equipment to cut it. Porcelain diamond blades designed to cut porcelain ceramics are used by professionals when working porcelain countertops and tile installers cut ceramic tiles. These tasks and others generate dust when they are performed in dry environments. No wonder then, that ceramic dust must be considered as one type of construction dust included in the clean up efforts.

Stone Dust

Not every construction project makes use of stone, but a large number of them do. For example, any kitchen countertop, wall, or flooring fashioned from any of the following materials uses stone of some type:

  • Quartzite
  • Granite
  • Marble
  • Limestone
  • Travertine
  • Concrete
  • Pavers
  • Stack-able Wall Stones
  • Quartz
  • Soapstone
  • Onyx
  • Porcelain

The reason we consider all of the above materials above to be "stone" materials is that each of those materials contains a measure of silica dust. This substance is the reason dust clean up is so important in the first place. We won't delve into the topic in this article, but silica dust is one of the main substances that make construction dust a risk for workers.

Concrete Dust

From concrete sidewalks to patios. Countertops to driveways. Concrete turns up in many aspects of a construction project. And where there is concrete, you can often find grinding, shaping, cutting, drilling, and even jack-hammering. These tasks associated with concrete, generate construction dust that must be cleaned up at some point. Concrete dust definitely makes it on the list of construction dust materials list.

Fiberglass Dust

This entry in our list of construction dust materials may be easily overlooked if you are not careful. Fiberglass is used in a variety of materials and depending on the purpose of the material, the fiberglass will be constructed from glass fiber of specific type. we won't get into why there are so many kinds of fiberglass used in this article, but the reasons for it are easy to understand.

Shaping, cutting, and sanding fiberglass materials are all tasks that generate fiberglass dust on a construction site or in a shop. The dust from this material contributes to the overall dust volume of the project. Cleaning up fiberglass dust can be a nuisance to say the very least.

Metal Dust

Last but not least in our material consideration regarding construction dust that must be cleaned up is metal. Whether it is angle iron, wrought iron, rebar, or some other kind of metal, you will find this material on many construction sites. Metal cutting and grinding like the materials we have mentioned in this article, generates dust. Depending on the kind of metal that is cut or ground, the dust will contain a variety of materials.

As we have seen, construction dust may contain a lot of different substances. However, in the end, no matter what substances are in the dust, it must be cleaned up. For the remainder of the article, we will look at how to clean up construction dust.

Construction Dust Clean Up

Dust from construction sites covers everything. It gets on the workers' skin, the clothing of the contractors, and all of the surfaces in the environment. So what is the formula for how to clean up construction dust? We'll forego the discussing how to clean skin and clothing of construction dust and focus on cleaning up the area.

Suface Cleaning

If the construction area is ready to have the dust cleaned, you can use a number of machines that are designed to either vacuum up dust and collect it using a filter. Getting the dust from the air prevents the dust that was in the air from settling on horizontal and vertical surfaces that you clean. Having either an ambient air cleaner or a vacuum with a filtering system.

Wall surfaces may be cleaned using a soft, damp cloth as long they are not freshly painted. Baseboards are basically just little ledges that will collect dust as it falls toward the floor. These surfaces tend to collect dust anyway, but especially right after construction or a remodel will they need to be wiped down.

Floors too are surfaces that catch everything that does not end up on another surface as it falls downward. If you have cleaned the air, the walls, and the baseboards & ledges as we have discussed, the floors should be cleaned using a vacuum that contains a filter designed to retain dust. This is important because using vacuums not designed to contain the dust will just mix the dust back into the environmental air where the whole clean up process will have to be repeated.

In conclusion, construction dust is generated on the job site when specific tasks are performed on various materials. Cutting, grinding, sanding, as well as other common tasks produce airborne particles that end up on surfaces. However having a system in place that progressively and regularly removes the dust from the air, the walls, baseboards, ledges, and flooring ensures that your project is presented in the best light possible.

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