Whilst the public are aware of dangers such as silicosis to industrial workers, they are largely in the dark about the dangerous dusts that accumulate in their own homes. Household dust can pose serious risks to home owners and families in addition to basement construction workers. Basement companies in London are not responsible for the dust – it is there already – but building basements can release it into the air.
As dust is composed of a wide range of chemicals, minerals and organisms, the hazards are also numerous and varied. Urban dust hidden under floorboards for decades may contain traces of heavy metals, pesticides, bacteria or asbestos.
Coal dust and grit are known to increase bronchitis, asthma, heart disease, tuberculosis, pneumonia, cancers, lupus, sclerosis, and cardio-pulmonary disease. Iron residues can cause pulmonary siderosis, tin and barium stannosis and baritosis, while beryllium from electrical goods can cause berylliosis.
Textile fibres have a shape that easily penetrates the lungs, while dyes and chemicals in curtains, carpets and clothing encourage bacteria that can cause rheumatoid arthritis. Chemicals found in mobile phones and pizza boxes have been linked to hormone disruption, reproductive problems and development problems in children. Phthalates from children’s toys and vinyl flooring are found in about 90 per cent of all urban dust samples.
Traces of animal droppings may carry contagious diseases such as histoplasmosis, psittacosis, leptospirosis, tularemia, salmonellosis or meningitis. Hay, straw and grain residues can cause farmer’s lung; feathers and bird droppings can cause bird fancier’s lung; compost dust can lead to mushroom worker’s lung; and moulds can lead to cheese washer’s lung. Old cess pits may still contain enough manure to cause sewage sludge disease, and almost any substance can trigger auto-immune diseases and allergies.
Using a professional basement company will ensure the proper precautions are taken, including water sprays, masks, protective clothing, and care in transporting and storing materials. Work areas can be screened with PVC or shuttering, and extractors can be used to create low pressure that prevents dust-laden air escaping.
In larger builds, steel or plastic ducting can be installed early in the project. The system’s airflow monitor will give an early warning if ducts or filters become obstructed. Dust in the air can be traced with a dust lamp to identify where extraction vents are most needed.
A common complaint from neighbours when dust escapes is that grit has settled on their vehicles and damaged paintwork; in fact, it is not dust settling but the way it is removed that can cause damage. Rubbing grit with a rag is an effective way to scour rather than clean, so a water-jet is always a safer solution.
Every (dust) cloud has a silver lining
Basement companies in London that conduct effective dust suppression and clean-up operations are doing you a great long-term favour by removing years of toxic dust accumulation from your premises, leaving the building far healthier than before the work began.
Basement constructions are also an opportunity to install a HEPA-filtered air conditioning system that will protect you from London pollution for years to come.