Quarries – A Solution or a Dust Problem?
For centuries man has used a stone to build their surroundings and villages and then later entire cities. Stones were used to build castles, walls, churches and important buildings. As the demand for this material has been constantly growing, so is the demand for modern quarrying.
Stone quarrying is a process by which rock is extracted from the ground and crushed to produce aggregate, which is then screened into desired sizes. This screened aggregate is then used for the construction of roads, rail lines, bridges, hospitals, schools, airports, factories, and homes, all of which has crucial impact on economic development of any country.
There is no doubt that aggregate is an essential part of the modern economy, but what are the environmental consequences of the industrial stone processing and how they can be mitigated?
The challenge we face is to balance the effects of development and the environment, this post highlights ways in which this can be done.
Quarrying and the Environment
Modern quarrying is raising various environmental concerns including land disturbance, noise, ground vibrations and emission of dust arising from movement of machinery and rock blasting. In this post, we will be focusing on the consequences of dust emission from the quarrying process.
What is Dust?
Dust is solid particles ranging in size from below 1 µm up to around 100 µm, that become airborne, depending on their origin, physical characteristics and ambient conditions. Generally, the smaller the particle size, the more hazardous it is to health.
Impact of Dust in Quarries
There is no doubt or argument that dust pollution in quarries poses various health risks to its workers as well as to the surrounding communities. Such risks include respiratory ailments, skin and eye problems, and safety issues due to poor visibility. The dust particle size, concentration, chemical composition and length of the exposure are factors considered in evaluating the health risks involved. Long-term severe exposure can pose the risk of developing silicosis, a fatal lung disease.
Occupational exposure to dust is a well-known phenomenon, that occurs everywhere not just in developing countries. Nevertheless, many quarry operations are located close to residential areas, which means that the impact of airborne dust is a problem that has to be dealt with not only because of occupational requirements but also in terms of broad environmental regulations. Local communities are now becoming more aware of the health impacts of dust inhalation and raising the issue.
Dust is generated on quarry operation during the breaking down process. Thus, the airborne concentration depends on the energy put into the process. Consequently, screened product is then the transported using large amounts of heavy machinery creating movement of traffic, which causes erosion and dust bloom clouds which is severe dust pollution that is then carried through the surrounding by wind.
Therefore is not only the quarry process itself but the collection,loading, transporting and delivery of the material that also constitutes considerable dust emissions . Unless dust generation is prevented, dust moves with ambient air and can have far reaching consequences in locations far from the source. The consequences of this process can have an effect on vegetation, animals, and health of the workers and local communities.
Dust Mitigation Solutions for Quarries
Dust control needs to be a key priority on any quarry operation. Prevention and control measures should not be applied in an ad hoc manner but integrated into comprehensive, well-managed and sustainable programs. Dust Prevention and effective Dust Control Systems should be implemented to protect both workers’ health, surrounding communities, and the environment.
What are the Consequences of Not Complying with Environmental Regulations?
Governments need to step up and establish and effectively implement Air Quality Control laws that will regulate dust emissions and provide penalties for violation as this will provide the needed motivation for Quarry operators to implement effective dust control measures.
Quarry companies that do not show reasonable responsibility in limiting the dust they create should have financial consequences or even suspension – an example of this being implemented occurred in 2015 when the Ministry of Environment of the UAE suspended the operation permits of 14 quarry and crusher operators.
What are the Most Effective Dust Suppression Solutions and Practices?
Soil Solutions has developed a range of complementary products and equipment that address the most problematic issues connected with Dust Control, While there are many different products on the market that may prevent dust – our approach is to provide a specifically tailored solution that will provide effective and long-term cost-effective dust control, that has no other negative environmental consequences.
If you are a quarry employee trying to find best available solution for Dust Management, or a member of a community affected by dust, contact us today.
Our mission is to help to keep your quarry operation running in compliance with environmental regulations!