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Sweeping Compound Application Reduces Dust From Soiled Floors Within Enclosed Operator Cabs; CDC NIOSH Technology News
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    Objective To reduce dust generated from soiled floors within enclosed operator cabs. Background Enclosed operator cabs are widely used on mobile excavation equipment in the mining and construction industries. They protect the operator from bad weather, noise, and airborne dusts. The inside cab environment usually must be kept at very low dust concentrations because of quartz dust generated from the excavation of silica-bearing rock. For cabs to be effective in controlling airborne respirable dust, they must have an efficient air filtration system, while providing a positive pressurization of the cab interior. Ideally, the recirculated and exterior makeup air filtration should provide at least 99% capture efficiency for dust particles as small as 0.3-µmaerodynamic diameters. Many of these enclosed cabs use heating units mounted or directed along the floor (see figure 1), which can cause dust entrainment problems. Prior studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) of enclosed cabs have shown that these floor heaters can generate notable amounts of dust within the cab enclosure (see Technology News 486). Multiple-shift dust levels measured inside a drill cab increased on average from0.04 mg/m3 during the summer months to 0.68 mg/m3 during the winter months. Additional dust level measurements, made with optical particle counters during a nondrilling time period, verified that dust levels inside the cab increased from 0.03 to 0.26 mg/m3when the floor heater/fan was turned on. Dust levels within the cab also became greater than the ambient air dust levels outside of the cab when the floor heater was turned on during the nondrilling time period. This shows that the floor heater was a notable dust source problem. Cab floors are commonly soiled from operators tracking dirt inside the cab upon entering from the mine or construction site. Interior cab dust levels can be increased by (1) airflow disturbance of the soiled floor or (2) operator disturbance of the soiled floor. Approach During prior NIOSH surveys of surface coal mine drills, several drills with very low cab dust levels (#0.1 mg/m3) were observed to have floor sweeping compound spread out over the cab floor during the working shift. This initial observation led to a more controlled A-B study of the effect of the sweeping compound on the interior cab dust levels. This study involved dust sampling with and without sweeping compound inside the cabs of a bulldozer and two drills. Sweeping compounds commonly use sawdust or cellulose as the main bulk material, with oil or wax added for dust adhesion purposes. Sand is sometimes added to increase bulk density. Sweeping compounds with sand are commonly used to sweep up concrete floors. Those without sand (usually referred to as "gritless") are used to sweep up smooth finished floors. Most of the oils and waxes used for the adhesive ingredient are petroleum-base and can have an irritating odor. People sensitized to petroleum distillates could have allergic reactions to these sweeping compounds. A few companies offer non petroleum-base sweeping compounds, using either a natural oil or chemical additive for dust adhesion. During this study, it was decided that only the gritless sweeping compound (without sand) would be used, eliminating the addition of another potential silica source inside the cab. Since the sweeping compound would be applied on the enclosed cab floor for the duration of the shift, it was decided to use a canola oil-base sweeping compound to eliminate irritating odor from the petroleum-base sweeping compounds. The natural canola oil-base sweeping compound had a slight woody scent. The three pieces of equipment used in this study had notably different cab layouts. The bulldozer had a small cab with vents discharging air-conditioned or heated air from adjustable louvers at operator waist level and floor level. The bulldozer also had a cloth

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