They are one of the more popular outdoor surface materials available and are used for everything from patios to driveways. There popularity stems from the fact that they are versatile and can be used in such a way that they contour with the land on which they rest. Pavers are widely used for projects of all types. However, working with this adaptable materials calls for being familiar with their composition and knowing a bit about paver dust. In this article, we will look at paver dust. We will look at where it come from, what is in it, and what you can do to protect workers from the potentially harmful effects of paver dust.
Generating Paver Dust
As mentioned in the introduction, pavers are used for a variety of surfaces in many construction projects. Some of the applications for pavers include the following:
- Pool Decks
As you can imagine, when constructing any of the surfaces mentioned in the list above, there is going to be a need to cut or shape at least some of the pavers. Cutting, breaking, or grinding pavers will generate dust particles. The generating of paver dust by these methods is what necessitates knowing about the composition of pavers. So let's talk about that next.
One key to understanding potential dust hazards of any material is to become familiar with its composition. Knowing what a material is composed of helps you to understand why the dust that it generates may or may not be harmful. So let's look at the composition of pavers.
Sometimes you will hear them referred to as "stone pavers". In reality though, they are made from concrete. As a result, the hazards of pavers will trace pretty closely those associated with
concrete dust. Pavers are made by using molds to form concrete into a desired shape. Pigment is added to achieve desired color. These small, concrete objects are made in a variety of sizes, shapes and some are even textured to create a natural look.
As mentioned, paver dust will contain the same substances as concrete. So when it is cut, polished, sanded, or chiseled, it will generate dust that is potentially harmful to anyone that breathes the dust. If you are not familiar with why dust from concrete is hazardous, we will explain it next.
Paver Dust Hazards
It is not difficult to see why paver dust is one of the
harmful construction dust materials. Since pavers are formed from concrete, they carry the same hazards when dust is generated by working with them. Let's recap those reasons here.
As we have explained elsewhere on this site, concrete is made up of other materials, some of which contain silica. For example, sand contains a high level of crystalline silica. The health effects associated with respirable crystalline silica are documented very well by OSHA and they have formed
Safety and Health Regulations for Construction because of the potential hazards of this substance.
Breathing silica from paver dust like that mentioned in the document referenced above can result in impaired breathing. But it can be even worse than that. Other issues linked to breathing respirable crystalline silica include:
- Lung Disease
- Scarring of Lungs
- Lung Cancer
So how can the health risks associated with breathing paver dust be reduced? The answer is to reduce the amount of dust that is breathed. As the saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." So let's look at some ways professionals reduce the amount of dust generated by pavers.
Paver Dust Control
Reducing paver dust when cutting, grinding, and shaping concrete pavers is done in a number of ways. One of the most used and simplest is to simply spray water on the surface as you cut the paver. Since the surface is wet, the particles removed from the pavers do not become airborne and thus cannot be breathed. However, once the surface dries, the particles will again be able to become airborne if they are stirred up by being disturbed. Thus, some professionals working with concrete pavers use other
dust control systems to manage dust generated by pavers.
In the end, it is good to know not only what pavers are made of, but also why the dust generated by cutting them is potentially hazardous. yet, the best information to have is that of knowing what substances to protect your workers and yourself from and how to control respirable crystalline silica dust in whatever work environment the dust appears.