You have a concrete slab that you want to polish. You check your local hire shop and great they have a floor grinder in stock. But you remember that someone warned you about concrete dust, and the potential health implications it can have. So, you wonder, do you really need to worry about reducing dust when grinding concrete?
It is important to reduce the amount of airborne dust created when grinding concrete as it contains crystalline silica dust. Inhalation of concrete dust over a long period of time at low to moderate levels, or short periods at high levels can be harmful to your health and lead to respiratory illness.
It is safe to grind concrete if you know what precautions to take and equip yourself with the right safety equipment. That being said, according to the Cancer Council, it is estimated that 230 people develop lung cancer each year as a result of past exposure to silica dust at work. So let’s go through the main things you should have when grinding concrete.
When grinding concrete, your first bit of PPE that you should have on hand is a N95 respirator (also known as a N95 mask).
A N95 Respirator blocks 95% of particulates that are least 0.3 microns in diameter, and the Australian equivalent P2 Standard blocks 94% of equivalent sized particles. Concrete Dust particles can be as small as 0.5 microns, so a N95 respirator can provide effective protection against concrete dust. The term ‘N95 mask’ is actually referring to the American respiratory mask standard. Here in Australia, we refer to them as P2 Masks, and they offer 94% protection against particulates that are least 0.3 microns in diameter and is considered the equivalent of the N95 standard. We have a great range of masks online and deliver P2 and N95 masks Australia wide.
Most tradesmen know that PPE is really your second resort though. Wearing a mask will provide protection, but you will safer if you also reduce the risk first. This brings us to the next question, how do you reduce dust when grinding concrete?
If you are new to concrete grinding, there is a chance that you are best off grinding wet. This is the traditional way of reducing dust when concrete grinding is to grind wet. This creates a slurry which prevents the dust from rising to the air and being inhaled. You also don’t need expensive attachments and HEPA vacuum cleaners, which you need if you grind dry.
Mark from Canberra Diamond Blades says that ‘another advantage of grinding wet is that you get longer life from your diamond segments or diamond wheels.’ He says ‘That’s because the water keeps the diamond abrasive bits cooler, they don’t glaze over so easily and don’t wear down as fast. This is because the water lubricates the abrasive segment, reduces friction and prevent the epoxy resin that holds the diamond segments together from glazing over (which means becoming smooth, and no grinding properly anymore).’
If you want to dry grind concrete, dust can be reduced by using the latest dust extraction systems that are attached to the machine, be it a floor grinder or even a angle grinder. These dust extraction systems consist of grinding attachments such as a shroud connected to a HEPA vacuum cleaner. A large benefit of dry grinding is that it cleans as you grind. But there is extra time involved in cleaning out vacuum cleaner filters, and there is a significant cost in purchasing all the dust extraction equipment.
Learn a lot from this article? The experts at Paragon Tools put a lot of time into great construction articles for you. Check out other articles such as Can I Use An Angle Grinder To Level Concrete? or Beginners Guide In How To Remove A Concrete Driveway
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