Dust isn’t simply a nuisance byproduct of remodeling; that nasty stuff that’s negative for employees, bad for subs, bad for clients—and poor for business


Photo: courtesy ITW

First in a two-part series on the make-up and control that jobsite dust. Click here to read component 2.

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Dust is unpreventable in remodeling. There’s nearly no task a remodeler can undertake that doesn’t create dust, and there are numerous commonplace tasks—for example, demolition, drywall cutting, and also sanding—that develop copious quantities of the stuff. Many remodelers put up makeshift “tents” making use of poly and also painter’s ice in a halfhearted initiative to save dust from dispersing throughout the house. Yet the perspective of many home builders is the it’s a shedding battle; a truth of remodeling life the they and also their clients—the majority of whom want to stay in their home throughout the project—simply have to accept. However for some people, living v dust method living in physics discomfort—and perhaps not living as long.

The U.S. Ecological Protection Agency’s command Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) preeminence is an altering the attitudes and also practices the remodelers working on residences built before 1978, yet the dust trouble goes beyond lead paint. Dust generated on remodeling jobsites is nasty stuff the gets right into everything—not just floors, cabinets, closets, and also electronics, yet into the wait inhaled through workers and by homeowners and their families. Failing to do every little thing it bring away to regulate construction-generated dust no just bad for business, it’s poor for the health of your employees, her subcontractors, and your clients. 

The Dust Disconnect

Ironically, preventing health difficulties is a leading an inspiration for residence renovations. Forty percent the U.S. Master surveyed in the Houzz Healthy residences Trend examine (October 2014) were motivated to remodel precisely due to the fact that they wanted a healthy home. Moisture, air quality, and cleanliness topped the perform of indoor problems that problem homeowners.

Most homeowners either want to remain in their home while it’s gift remodeled or have actually no selection in the matter. Much more and much more are same concerned about air quality throughout the remodel itself, an especially those who have actually lived through a previous project. Unfortunately, once it comes to construction-related dust, yes a significant disconnect in between homeowners’ concerns and the perspectives of remodelers. In industry research completed for ITW (Illinois device Works) by MMR study Associates, 89 percent of homeowners surveyed were concerned around “living v the project.” while 64 percent of home builders acknowledged concerns around health worries during construction, just 39 percent reported acquisition any extr actions to control the problem. 

In fact, professional remodeling builders reported emotion that master are fairly satisfied with current dust administration methods. However this couldn’t be additional from the truth: In study commissioned by ITW in link with the BuildClean Dust control System, the 251 homeowner respondents, 81 percent said they to be unhappy about dust levels. And also an astounding 85 percent declared that jobsite dust is the highest inconvenience the remodeling. For these clients, dust is worse 보다 living with lacking walls and plastic over the windows. The worse than going there is no a kitchen sink or dishwasher, or through the frozen refrigerator wedged into the life room. And it ranks above the consistent noise of circular saws and heavy equipment. 

And not just throughout the job, yet afterward as well: countless homeowners told researchers that ~ the contractor’s job-related is done, the visibility of too much dust forced them come perform additional work us to complete the project.



A> Behind knee walls; B> Attic hatch; C> Wiring holes; D> Plumbing vents; E> Interior soffits; F> Recessed lights; G> Flue or duct chases; H> Rim joists; I> Windows & doors

What’s in Dust?

Every home has actually a lift dust level, through the details contents depending on a mix that factors. These encompass the period of the house, the variety of people living in the residence, their activities, and the number and kind of pet they have. Household dust typically consists that some combination of: person skin flakes and also animal fur; decomposing insect parts; food debris; lint and also fibers native clothes, bedding, and also other fabrics; tracked-in soil; soot and ash; particulate matter from smoking and cooking; and allergens and pollutants native the environment. Climate also affects the ingredient of dust. Because that example, research study done by Lawrence Berkeley national Laboratory established that increased indoor humidity level are linked with boosted indoor dust mite allergen levels. 

Jobsite Dust

During a common remodeling project, many dust-generating events, such together demolition and also drywall sanding, contribute additional components and also an increased variety of particles come the lift dust level. Installed within remodeling-generated dust is organic matter, such as rodent feces, dead bugs, dust mites, and mold spores; pulverized material remnants, like gypsum native drywall, silica indigenous cement, and sawdust indigenous wood; to add asbestos, lead, and VOCs (volatile necessary compounds) indigenous a selection of sources.

Most of the dust the homeowners see and complain around has settled on floors, countertops, home window sills, bookshelves, trim and molding, and also other surfaces. But plenty of dust particles, including some the are too tiny to see, easily becomes airborne throughout normal household activity. Whenever world or pets relocate around, castle stir up dust, either tracking contaminants within from the outdoors, or tracking dust through the house from one an are to another.

The HVAC system likewise moves dust around, together do herbal pathways in a framework (see “Pathways for Dust,” illustration, above). Together warmer wait rises and cooler air falls, that carries dust particles with it, not simply through rooms and hallways, however into and also through unsealed stud, joist, and also rafter bays. And every time someone opens a window or a door, the waiting pressure readjust can pull in contaminants from outdoors, and also stir up tiny airborne dust corpuscle that eventually resettle, just to be stirred up again in an unlimited cycle. 



Size Matters

We all know what a coating the dust top top a floor or countertop look at like, yet there is a lot more going top top in the fine, dry powder 보다 meets the eye. Researchers categorize dust by size into three varieties according to exactly how deep right into the body the corpuscle that make up each type can travel. The smaller sized the particle, the higher the penetration right into the body and the greater the health risk (see “The Body"s Defenses versus Breathing Dusty Air” article).

Inhalable dust is composed of corpuscle 100 microns or less in diameter the can get in the mouth and nose during normal breathing.Thoracic dust comprises particles 10 microns or smaller in diameter that pass with the mouth and nose and also reach the upper respiratory area.Respirable dust consists of particles much less than 5 microns that deserve to reach all the means into the alveoli the the lungs. 

One measure up of air top quality is a count of the variety of particles bigger than 0.5 micrometers or “microns” (μm) in 1 cubic foot of wait (see “How tiny Is a Micron?” illustration, above). In the course of research done because that ITW during advancement of the BuildClean system, air measurements were take away on active jobsites before, during, and also after common jobsite tasks. ARTI and Dylos airborne fragment counters were used, both of i beg your pardon are capable of determining the dust concentration of particles varying in dimension from much less than 0.3µm come 5.0µm. Sample readings are displayed in the table “Construction Dust Profiles” (at the finish of this article), expressed together the variety of particles in 1 cubic foot of air.

The results show that a usual room before construction task averages 20,000 come 30,000 particles per cubic foot. (By comparison, a cubic foot of air end the middle of the s or high mountains consists of fewer than 200 particles larger than 0.5 μm.) When particular remodeling jobs are taking place, however, over there is a much better volume of particles in the air. Depending upon the job being performed and also what type of dust administration practices room being used, the data mirrors per-cubic-foot readings together high together 800,000 particles bigger than 0.5µm. (In a follow-up to this article, the July 2016 issue of Professional Remodeler explores materials and equipment for reliable dust management.)




The concentration of corpuscle is higher the closer you obtain to the job-related generating the dust, and also is also influenced by how long the particles continue to be suspended in the wait (see “When the Dust Settles,” chart, above). Heaviness pulls heavier particles come the floor sooner 보다 lighter (and commonly smaller) particles, which tend to float in the air because that a much longer time:

Particles the 15µm–100µm in diameter (inhalable) deserve to settle in ~ 1 minute; in bigger rooms, wait volume will extend the time essential for settling.Particles much less than 10µm in diameter (thoracic) will take about 3 minute to settle.Particles at 5µm in diameter (respirable) will settle in around 8 minutes. Particles with a diameter the 1µm (respirable) will take up to 4 or much more hours come settle.

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Clearing the Air

ITW likewise measured exactly how fast details control measures might reduce the bit count top top an active remodeling jobsite. The results of that tests present the drastic result remodeling have the right to have on at home air quality, as well as the effectiveness of waiting containment actions (see “Dust removed Testing” table, below). Comparable air testing was newly performed by Bert Schiller, an elevation certified commercial hygienist, in a 6,000-cubic-foot an are (30x20x10). Results verified that just after the dust-generating event, particles higher than 0.5 microns in diameter got to counts in excess of 500,000 every cubic foot. A BuildClean unit was then rotate on in the center of the room, and also after 6 minutes, dust concentration dropped to around 140,000 particles every cubic foot; after ~ 12 minutes (one finish air exchange), the dust concentration reduce to about 90,000; and also after 1 hour, the particulate count fell to around 30,000.


Controlling Dust

The days of shrugging turn off the inevitability of dust in a remodeling project are over. In enhancement to the inconvenience and also annoyance it causes homeowners and the raising awareness the the potential health hazards a dusty jobsite presents, OSHA’s freshly revised silica dominance makes dust containment and control a necessary part of a remodeling contractor’s traditional practices. In following month’s issue, we’ll explore the options for measure up dust levels and also will talk with contractors about the materials, equipment, and also jobsite techniques they usage to reduce or remove airborne particulates and also protect homeowners and workers throughout construction.