What should I know about safety and health issues relating to concret

stella1952January 1, 2013

QUESTION I have been reading some stuff about concrete, and since I have lung problems (chronic bronchitis)I wonder what kind of mask or respirator I should use. One article said to use something that is rated for silica because of the lung disease silica can cause (silicosis). It scares me! What are all of you doing about this?

ANSWER GOOD QUESTION!

Hopefully everyone's wearing masks approved for use with silica - I am!

Wear household cleaning gloves (like Platex Living gloves) when handling and mixing concrete and hypertufa. You can switch to lighter weight disposable gloves after mixing. Wet concrete and hypertufa are caustic to the skin and moist membranes (like your airways and eyes).

Wear eye protection!

We have mentioned all this before, all the instructions other members have submitted remind people to wear safety equipment, so I'm assuming that folks are doing just that. However, just in case... *climbs up on soapbox...*

ANYONE working with portland cement, silica sand, silicon dioxide, silica fume, vermiculite, perlite, natural pigments and oxides, paints, sealers, admixes, or any other substances has a PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY to acquaint themselves with the chemical properties, safety and environmental issues of those substances.

Start by READING THE LABELS - the ENTIRE label!! Then read the MSDS sheets. People DO work with and around these products every day, but they are NOT benign and should NOT be used carelessly. You SHOULD be concerned about being around products like this, especially if you have an existing health issue. Use good sense, KNOW and FOLLOW safety procedures. Check out the MSDS sheet for concrete.

When finishing (wire brushing, carving, sanding, etc.) cementious products (concrete & hypertufa), keep the object WET so that no dust is created. Wear the mask anyway - just in case. If you are working in an enclosed area - basement, garage, shed, be sure to use GOOD ventilation, a particulate air filter, and put washable mats at the entrance to living areas to avoid tracking dust into your living environment.

Use plastic sheeting or bags whenever possible so that cleaning up mostly consists of carefully gathering the protective material and throwing it away. Vacuum rather than sweep.

Wear protective clothing, especially when finishing objects. A lot of dust goes right into your clothing, so shower, change and launder immediately after working. If you do a lot of this work, have a couple of "work outfits" so you are not trashing and contaminating all your clothes. Those disposable paper jump suits are the hot set-up and are used extensively in the ornamental concrete industry.

When transferring dry materials (pouring into storage buckets, measuring for mixing, etc.), create as little dust as possible. FAST = DUMPING = DUST.

Instead of DUMPING a load of sand (crystalline silica dust) or portland cement into a mixing tub, PLACE the measuring container into the mixing container as close to the...

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