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Delving into dust control

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World Cement,

WAMGROUP considers the most effective technologies for controlling dust emissions produced during the loading, unloading and storing of cement.

The potential for dust emissions occurs throughout the cement-production process, from the quarry, to the preparation and handling of the raw feed, the handling and storage of clinker, and the feeding, milling, conveying, bagging and loading of cement. These emissions pose challenges both for the health and safety of workers and surrounding populations, as well as the environment.

The release of coarse particles (>10 µm), for example, can be a source of conflict between a cement plant or loading/unloading facility and local communities. Serious incidents have the potential to endanger a company’s social licence to operate, and risk a response from local regulators. It can also adversely impact agricultural productivity in nearby areas with a number of studies showing cement dust adversely affecting plant growth, soils and groundwater.

Fine particles (<10 µm, PM10) create health concerns due to their respirable nature.

These particles, for example, can penetrate deep into the respiratory system, while PM2.5 particles (<2.5 µm) may enter the lungs, significantly increasing the risk of lung damage and disease. The size of these very small particles (for reference, particles <50 µm are invisible to the naked eye) also allows them to linger when airborne and travel on air currents for long periods of time.

Controlling dust also brings safety benefits in terms of improving visibility, for example, during ship loading or unloading, allowing operators to better see into ship holds. And of course, cement dust is designed to harden on contact with water: this may be its essential role in concrete, but it can be a nuisance should sufficient quantities of fugitive cement dust harden in areas where it may damage equipment or negatively impact the environment.

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