We hear constant stories about the dangers of air pollution. One aspect of this is unavoidable: the presence of dust in our day-to-day lives. Our lungs have ways to try to counter this risk; however, you should still be aware of the dangers.
Dust can come from a range of sources. Professions such as mining and masonry can involve grinding materials such as rock to create inorganic dust that fills the air. Organic dust can come from animals or plants, including grain.
Most large particles of dust will not make it past your nose, as they will be trapped or ejected through sneezing. Smaller particles may travel down your windpipe and into your lungs. Again, there are special cells that may help to remove them and send them back to the throat; however, whilst dust is in your body, it could cause you harm.
One of the main worries when breathing in dust is that it will inflame parts of your respiratory system. Dust trapped in the nose can cause rhinitis, while inflammation of the trachea/windpipe is called tracheitis and inflammation of the bronchi – part of the inside of the lungs – is known as bronchitis.
If there is a larger amount of dust, it may settle deeper in the lungs and overwhelm the cells that are meant to protect you. This could cause toxic chemicals to be released and could lead to the development of scar tissue. When too extensive, this becomes a condition known as fibrosis or a similar condition known as silicosis.
In some professions, it is almost impossible to avoid dust. Luckily, there are still steps you can take to protect yourself. Everything from your own breathing patterns to basic housekeeping and the use of spray booth filters from stockists such as www.dustspares.co.uk/spray-booth-filters can help. The UK government provides guidance to try to prevent employees from being exposed to the most dangerous types of dust at work.
Whilst the size and amount of dust is the greatest fear, there are other factors that can increase the risk of breathing in dust. If you are a smoker or have a condition that already impairs your lung function, such as asthma, the potential danger is increased and you should take extra precautions if you know you are entering a dusty environment.