I currently work next door to a concrete recycling company (they make small rocks from large rocks) and have had no luck whatsoever identifying the hazards associated with breathing the dust. At times it is so thick, I wear a dust mask to go from my office door to my car. I have had the EPA out several times and they have tried to enforce certain rules but there is no change in the quantity of dust generated. My main concern is as follows. Is breathing concrete dust harmful? and if so, at what level (parts/million etc. is there a concern.
1. Change that dust mask for a new mask that filters asbestos. Asbestos was added to concrete work, there is just know way of knowing unless you do sample testing. A mask that filters concrete can be purchased at your favor hardware store for about $30.
2. See if you, your employer, or a group of employees can work together and hire a company to do both bulk and air sample testing. The lab fees are not that expensive and you can do your own bulk sample by collecting the dust yourself. Wear protective equipment. Use the Yellow Pages to find companies and labs that do this type of work. Some labs provide equipment, call around and ask what to do, how to do it and how to make sure you do not injure yourself or contaminate the folks at the lab. Request that the dust be analyzed using Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). If the lab finds asbestos, ask that they identify the type - all asbestos exposures place you at risk. They also place your family at risk when the fibers are carried into your vehicle and home. There is no safe asbestos or safe level of asbestos exposure.
3. Do searches on the Internet for concrete dust exposure. I have seen some studies released that would interest you.
4. If your employer will not work with you, seek employment elsewhere. Eliminate exposure to that dust!
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