NIOSH Finds Practical Solution to Hazardous Dust

The low-cost solution is intended to be used when cutting fiber-cement siding.

NIOSH has published a new recommendation that says attaching a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw can provide a low-cost solution in order to reduce exposure to hazardous dust produced when construction workers cut fiber-cement siding.

"Our study showed that connecting a regular shop vacuum to a dust-collecting circular saw provides a simple and low-cost solution to the problem of silica exposure from cutting fiber-cement siding," said the study's lead researcher, Chaolong Qi, Ph.D. "Implementing this intervention, with a tool these workers are already likely to have available to them, can protect workers from a potentially deadly disease."

According to a NIOSH press release, the research that led to this solution was conducted in two phases. First, in a laboratory setting, researchers looked at three dust-collecting circular saws connected to an external vacuum. Researchers then conducted further studies at construction sites where workers were cutting fiber-cement siding. Results of the field studies showed that a regular shop vacuum controlled the amount of silica-containing dust in the air to well below the NIOSH-recommended exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica.

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