In honor of Air Quality Awareness Week, we’re focusing on environmental air quality, indoors and out. When talking about dust and fume collection systems, we often discuss OSHA regulations for exposure inside the building. However, EPA regulations on dust and fume control limit what can be released into the environment.
Air quality control inside a facility protects worker health. It also protects the facility from combustible dust hazards. The same hazardous dust and fumes that could harm workers inside, though, could also contaminate environmental air quality outside.
Metal Contaminants from Industry
Many industrial processes produce heavy metal contaminants. Many people think of foundries, mining, and steel mills when they hear about environmental air quality. However, fumes released from many processes can cause contamination in the environment. For example, metalworking, battery manufacturing, and smelting can be added to the list of potential polluters.
Metals that are dangerous in very small amounts include:
- Chromium (hexavalent chromium)
Very fine metal particles produced by industrial processes are the most harmful for environmental air quality. They can be carried for long distances in the air. Moreover, this means they may contaminate soil and water a long way from the source.
Many of these metals are known or suspected to cause cancer. Further, others like lead and mercury cause damage to the nerves and brain.
Some companies may not realize that their fumes include these metals. However, metals like steel can contain nickel, zinc, chromium, or other materials as alloys. These are good reasons to have a dust and fume collection system to protect workers at the facility… but what about the environment?
Dust and Fume Control for Environmental Air Quality
Removing dust and fumes from a building doesn’t make them disappear. These materials are harmful because they can remain floating in the air for people to inhale. They can also end up in water supplies or contaminate the soil.
All manufacturing companies are responsible for air pollution control in their facilities. To prevent air pollution from industrial processes, dust and fumes must be captured with air filtration. Dust collection systems serve double duty: they provide clean air inside the facility and trap harmful materials before they can get outside.
Part of preventing air pollution is the quality of dust collector filters. Filters need to be efficient enough to capture the smallest particulates the process creates. DeltaMAXX nanofiber filters capture particles as small as 0.3 microns, enough for most applications. If higher filtration is needed, HEPA after-filters can be used.
By capturing dust and fumes instead of blowing them outside, companies take responsibility for preserving environmental air quality. People who live and work near industrial areas need to be protected from harmful air pollution.
Maintaining environmental air quality improves people’s lives. Companies who invest in a dust and fume collection system can be proud that they are protecting their workers and protecting the environment. The “we just open the doors and blow it outside” philosophy might get dust and fumes out of the shop, but it passes the danger on to others. We are all responsible for what we put into the air, water, and soil around us.