Re: Concrete plant under fire, News, June 8, 2011.
There is a fair amount of discussion about cement dust blowing out from Tower Fencing, and frankly I find it worrying that nobody realizes the hazards this poses.
Cement powder contains silica, described as the “basic component of sand and rock” by WorkSafeBC. One of the most dangerous forms of which is crystalline silica — again, found in cement powder.
Being in cement powder or concrete dust, it gets inhaled into the lungs and causes silicosis.
To again pull from WorkSafeBC, “Silicosis is a disease caused by the prolonged breathing of crystalline silica dust. Fine particles deposited in the lungs cause thickening and scarring of the lung tissue.
“Crystalline silica exposure has also been linked to lung cancer. Initially, workers with silicosis may have no symptoms. However, as the disease progresses a worker may experience: Shortness of breath, severe cough and weakness. These symptoms can worsen over time and lead to death.”
Five minutes of reading on silica and its associated health concerns will show many comparisons to asbestos, with silica often being considered worse.
If there were clouds of asbestos floating down Goldstream, Tower would be shut down in a heartbeat.
Why is this taking so long to shut down a silica pollutant — a material so hazardous, WorkSafeBC requires any company creating dust to have a written exposure plan as well as worker protection such as full-face respirators, disposable coveralls, HEPA filtration and so forth.
There is enough knowledge out there that this shouldn’t be allowed to happen.