Dust isn’t simply a nuisance byproduct of remodeling; it’s nasty stuff that’s negative for employees, poor for subs, bad for clients—and also poor for business


Photo: courtesy ITW

First in a two-part series on the make-up and also manage of jobwebsite dust. Click right here to review Part 2.

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Dust is inevitable in remodeling. There’s practically no job a remodeler can undertake that doesn’t generate dust, and also there are many commonlocation tasks—for example, demolition, drywall cutting, and sanding—that develop copious amounts of the stuff. Many remodelers put up makeshift “tents” making use of poly and also painter’s tape in a halfhearted effort to store dust from spreading throughout the home. But the attitude of many type of building contractors is that it’s a shedding battle; a truth of remodeling life that they and their clients—the majority of whom desire to remain in their house during the project—ssuggest need to accept. But for some civilization, living with dust means living in physical discomfort—and also possibly not living as long.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) ascendancy is transforming the mindsets and also techniques of remodelers functioning on houses constructed prior to 1978, but the dust trouble goes past lead paint. Dust produced on remodeling jobsites is nasty stuff that gets into everything—not simply floors, cabinets, closets, and electronic devices, however into the air inhaled by workers and by homeowners and their family members. Failing to carry out whatever it takes to manage construction-created dust isn’t just bad for company, it’s poor for the wellness of your employees, your subbuilding contractors, and your clients. 

The Dust Disconnect

Ironically, avoiding wellness troubles is a leading inspiration for house renovations. Forty percent of U.S. homeowners surveyed in the Houzz Healthy Homes Trend Study (October 2014) were encouraged to redesign specifically because they wanted a healthier home. Moisture, air top quality, and cleanliness topped the list of indoor worries that issue homeowners.

Many homeowners either want to stay in their house while it’s being remodeled or have no choice in the issue. More and even more are equally concerned around air quality in the time of the reversion itself, especially those that have actually lived through a previous job. Unfortunately, as soon as it concerns construction-associated dust, there’s a significant disaffix in between homeowners’ pertains to and the mindsets of remodelers. In industry study completed for ITW (Illinois Tool Works) by MMR Research Associates, 89 percent of homeowners surveyed were came to around “living via the project.” While 64 percent of building contractors acknowledged comes to around health worries during building and construction, just 39 percent reported taking any kind of additional actions to regulate the difficulty. 

In reality, expert remodeling builders reported feeling that homeowners are fairly satisfied through existing dust monitoring methods. Yet this couldn’t be even more from the truth: In study commissioned by ITW in link through its BuildClean Dust Control System, of 251 homeowner respondents, 81 percent sassist they were unhappy about dust levels. And an astounding 85 percent declared that jobwebsite dust is the highest possible inconvenience of remodeling. For these clients, dust is worse than living through missing walls and plastic over the windows. It’s worse than going without a kitchen sink or dishwasher, or via the refrigerator wedged right into the living room. And it ranks over the continuous noise of circular saws and hefty tools. 

And not simply during the task, but afterward as well: Many kind of homeowners told researchers that after the contractor’s job-related is done, the presence of excessive dust compelled them to perdevelop added work-related themselves to complete the task.



A> Behind knee walls; B> Attic hatch; C> Wiring holes; D> Plumbing vents; E> Interior soffits; F> Recessed lights; G> Flue or duct chases; H> Rim joists; I> Windows & doors

What’s in Dust?

Eextremely home has actually a background dust level, via the certain contents relying on a mix of factors. These encompass the age of the home, the number of civilization living in the residence, their activities, and also the number and also type of pets they have actually. Houseorganize dust typically is composed of some combicountry of: humale skin flakes and pet fur; decomposing insect parts; food debris; lint and fibers from clothes, bedding, and also other fabrics; tracked-in soil; soot and also ash; particulate matter from smoking and cooking; and also allergens and also pollutants from the setting. Climate likewise affects the complace of dust. For example, research done by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory established that enhanced indoor humidity levels are connected with boosted indoor dust mite allergen levels. 

Jobwebsite Dust

Throughout a typical remodeling project, multiple dust-generating events, such as demolition and also drywall sanding, add added components and also an raised variety of pwrite-ups to the background dust level. Embedded within remodeling-produced dust is organic issue, such as rodent feces, dead bugs, dust mites, and also mold spores; pulverized product remnants, choose gypsum from drywall, silica from cement, and sawdust from wood; plus asbestos, lead, and also VOCs (volatile organic compounds) from a range of resources.

Most of the dust that homeowners view and comordinary about has actually settled on floors, countertops, window sills, bookshelves, trim and molding, and also various other surencounters. But many type of dust pshort articles, including some that are too tiny to check out, conveniently becomes airborne in the time of normal family members task. Whenever world or pets relocate around, they stir up dust, either tracking contaminants inside from the outdoors, or tracking dust via the home from one area to an additional.

The HVAC mechanism also moves dust roughly, as carry out herbal pathmeans in a structure (view “Pathmethods for Dust,” illustration, above). As warmer air rises and cooler air drops, it carries dust pposts with it, not just through rooms and hallmeans, however right into and via unsealed stud, joist, and also rafter bays. And eincredibly time someone opens a window or a door, the air push readjust have the right to pull in contaminants from outdoors, and stir up tiny airborne dust pposts that eventually rework out, just to be stirred up aacquire in an endmuch less cycle. 



Size Matters

We all know what a coating of dust on a floor or counteroptimal looks like, yet there is a lot more going on in that fine, dry powder than meets the eye. Scientists categorize dust by dimension right into three types according to exactly how deep right into the body the pposts that comprise each form deserve to take a trip. The smaller sized the pwrite-up, the greater the penetration right into the body and also the greater the health and wellness threat (check out “The Body"s Defenses Against Breathing Dusty Air” article).

Inhalable dust consists of pwrite-ups 100 microns or much less in diameter that can enter the mouth and nose in the time of normal breathing.Thoracic dust comprises pwrite-ups 10 microns or smaller in diameter that pass with the mouth and nose and reach the top respiratory area.Respirable dust consists of pwrite-ups less than 5 microns that have the right to reach all the method right into the alveoli of the lungs. 

One meacertain of air top quality is a count of the number of pwrite-ups larger than 0.5 micrometers or “microns” (μm) in 1 cubic foot of air (watch “How Small Is a Micron?” illustration, above). In the course of research done for ITW throughout advancement of the BuildClean device, air dimensions were taken on energetic jobsites before, in the time of, and after typical jobwebsite work. ARTI and Dylos airborne pwrite-up counters were offered, both of which are capable of determining the dust concentrations of pposts ranging in dimension from much less than 0.3µm to 5.0µm. Sample readings are shown in the table “Construction Dust Profiles” (at the finish of this article), expressed as the number of pposts in 1 cubic foot of air.

The outcomes show that a typical room prior to building and construction activity averperiods 20,000 to 30,000 particles per cubic foot. (By comparison, a cubic foot of air over the middle of the sea or high hills has fewer than 200 pposts bigger than 0.5 μm.) When particular remodeling jobs are ensuing, but, there is a a lot higher volume of particles in the air. Depfinishing on the task being performed and also what sort of dust administration practices are being offered, the data shows per-cubic-foot readings as high as 800,000 pwrite-ups larger than 0.5µm. (In a follow-approximately this article, the July 2016 worry of Professional Remodeler explores materials and also devices for efficient dust monitoring.)




The concentration of pwrite-ups is better the closer you obtain to the work generating the dust, and also is also influenced by exactly how lengthy the particles remain suspended in the air (see “When the Dust Settles,” chart, above). Gravity pulls heavier pposts to the ground sooner than lighter (and also typically smaller) pposts, which tfinish to float in the air for a longer time:

Pwrite-ups of 15µm–100µm in diameter (inhalable) have the right to settle within 1 minute; in larger rooms, air volume will certainly extend the moment required for settling.Particles much less than 10µm in diameter (thoracic) will certainly take about 3 minutes to settle.Pposts at 5µm in diameter (respirable) will settle in about 8 minutes. Pwrite-ups through a diameter of 1µm (respirable) will take as much as 4 or even more hours to clear up.

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Clearing the Air

ITW likewise measured exactly how quick specific regulate steps can mitigate the ppost count on an active remodeling jobsite. The results of its tests display the drastic impact remodeling have the right to have on indoor air top quality, and the performance of air containment procedures (view “Dust Removal Testing” table, below). Comparable air experimentation was recently performed by Bert Schiller, an independent certified industrial hygienist, in a 6,000-cubic-foot area (30x20x10). Results verified that just after the dust-generating event, pshort articles better than 0.5 microns in diameter reached counts in excess of 500,000 per cubic foot. A BuildClean unit was then turned on in the facility of the room, and after 6 minutes, dust concentration dropped to about 140,000 pwrite-ups per cubic foot; after 12 minutes (one finish air exchange), the dust concentration dropped to roughly 90,000; and after 1 hour, the particulate count dropped to about 30,000.


Controlling Dust

The days of shrugging off the inevitability of dust in a remodeling job are over. In addition to the inconvenience and also annoyance it causes homeowners and also the raising awareness of the potential health hazards a dusty jobsite presents, OSHA’s freshly revised silica preeminence renders dust containment and regulate a vital part of a remodeling contractor’s standard methods. In following month’s worry, we’ll discover the choices for measuring dust levels and will certainly talk via contractors around the products, tools, and also jobsite methods they usage to reduce or eliminate airborne particulates and defend homeowners and workers during construction.