Cement, the most generally used construction material worldwide.
Site civil engineers (who have the responsibility for quality control) and therefore the workers (who add concreting) are always exposed to cement. But what percentage of them are conscious of the harmful effects of cement in their health? The solution is merely a couple of or maybe negligible during a country like Nepal. Initially we, engineers, must remember of that and it’s our responsibility to deliver it to workers who work under our supervision. So let’s realize it. We all know that lime (CaO) (60-67%) and silica (SiO2) (17-25%) are the most constituents of cement. Besides these, there may be traces of hexavalent chromium and a few alkalis. Of these compounds are poison for human health in several forms. A bag of cement contains particles of various sizes. It contains about 10% particles of size but 2.5micron i.e. PM2.5 having the very best risk in pollution. About 50% of particles are of size PM10 which may penetrate deep into the lung causing variety of pulmonary diseases like asthma, bronchitis, carcinoma, etc. Continuous exposure to cement dust may cause immediate or delayed irritation of the eyes. Depending on the extent of exposure, effects may range from redness to chemical burns and blindness.
Cement particle of any size if inhaled either by respiration or by oral tract, comes into contact with water within the upper gastrointestinal region and forms a tough mass sort of a cement block. Imagine the cement block in your intestine. Normal human skin features a pH values 5 to six. But when cement comes into contact with water it forms lime which features a pH of range 12. This causes the caustic action of the human skin. The wet cement also has abrasive and drying properties. Continuous exposure of skin to wet cement allows caustic compounds to penetrate and burn the skin permanently.
When wet concrete or mortar is trapped against the skin, as an example by falling inside a worker’s boots or globes or by soaking through protective clothing, the result may be first, second or third-degree burns or skin ulcers.
Cement also leads to some allergy thanks to hexavalent chromium in cement. Most the engineers/ workers working in cement will develop an allergy to chromium, with symptoms starting from a light rash to severe skin ulcers. Additionally to skin reaction, chromium can cause a respiratory allergy called occupational asthma. Symptoms include wheezing and difficulty in breathing. An individual may suffer from both respiratory and skin allergies simultaneously.
Cement poisoning can cause dermatitis, which can be a skin irritation that’s red and inflamed with small blister cement poisoning can also end in discoloration of your skin, which will reach painful burns. The skin may become a navy color or even red and inflamed. This may be followed by fluid-filled blisters and may reach open sores and even amputation. Silica found in cement is assessed as a person’s lung carcinogen (the activator of the cancer-causing gene present within the lung). Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases are often disabling, or even fatal.
The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of connective tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to require oxygen.
There is no cure for silicosis and since silicosis affects the lung function, it makes another susceptible to lung infections like tuberculosis. In addition to the present if one features a smoking habit then he/she has got to say goodbye to the planet. Then how can we be safe from these hazards of cement?
- Never transfer cement products out of their manufacturer’s containers into unmarked containers,
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to be used,
- Use alkali resistant gloves,
- Cover all with long sleeves and full-length trousers,
- Waterproof boots high enough to stop concrete from flowing in once we need to expose to concreting,
- Suitable respiratory protective equipment like P, N or r95 respirator when cement dust can’t be avoided,
- Suitable eye protection where mixing pouring or other activities may endanger eyes (at least minimum safety glasses with side shields or goggles, under extremely dusty conditions.),
- Prefer ready mix concrete if possible,
- Always stay within the opposite of side of wind flow during concrete mixing,
- Don’t wash your hands with water from buckets used for cleaning tools.,
- Don’t prefer dry mixing,
- Provide adequate hygiene facilities on the location for workers to scrub hands and face at the top of employment and before eating, drinking,
- Always wash your hand by cold running water after touching the concrete,
- Get medical support immediately if any risk is felt. You’re a genius think more ideas to avoid cement’s disaster.
If you’ve got the other idea to prevent/avoid cement’s hazards, please share by commenting below.