Dust and recycling operations go hand-in-hand. Communities have raised concerns about everything from nuisance issues like dirty cars and windows, all the way up to incidents that may trigger regulatory intervention—respiratory illnesses and deaths. Effective suppression techniques are a proactive approach to maintaining good relationships with your community. And your workforce Raised awareness in communities and tighter regulatory standards make it imperative that the industry continue to implement efficient, cost-effective methods of particle control.
The recycling industry handles and processes thousands of tons of materials every day. Ferrous metals, nonferrous metals, plastics, wood, paper, and aluminum to name a few. Processing these recyclables, whether through shredding, compacting, or torch-cutting, while not intending to create particles 420 microns or smaller, may create such particles.
Some processing equipment doesn’t direct the dust created during use causing it to rise into the air. The uncaptured dust emanating out from processing is called “fugitive dust.” This is an umbrella term that applies to most dust created on industrial job sites as well as from unpaved yards. Fugitive dust escapes into the air, spreading wherever the wind takes it.
The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM). On June 10, the agency announced it is reconsidering modifying the monitoring standards.
Fugitive dust may lead to:
- Respiratory problems.
- Higher equipment maintenance costs.
- Reduced visibility.
- Poor community relations.
- Increased worker sick days.
- Lower workplace morale.
A good dust-management plan tackles the problem at its source. Most shredders and car flatteners have some kind of dust-suppression technology built into them, but it’s limited to those machines. Many companies use very basic water spraying techniques, such as sprinklers or hand-held hoses, to keep dust down onsite. These methods can help capture surface dust before it becomes airborne, but they tend to saturate target surfaces, often resulting in standing water. Consider using misting cannons to effectively cover large areas without leaving dangerous puddles.
Your onsite dust-management plan should call for:
- Removing dust accumulations regularly.
- Maintaining the staffing needed to sustain the cleaning schedule.
- Using vacuum cleaning where possible to minimize creating dust clouds.
- Where vacuuming is impractical, gently sweeping.
- Dry pools of standing water.
- Consider investing in wheel washers or a street-sweeping arrangement near vehicle exits.
Your community engagement plan should include:
- Sponsoring local sports teams.
- Visiting local schools and explaining who you are and how you work. to nearby schools.
- Charitable donations to community institutions like hospitals, food banks, etc.
- Inviting lawmakers and business leaders to tour your facilities, so they understand how you operate, and what you’re doing to manage dust.
By being a good neighbor and demonstrating transparency, you can enhance your reputation for environmental consciousness and your investment in your community’s long-term wellbeing.