Agriculture is one of the sectors with the highest dust activity, due to a combination of occupational hazards and a large percentage of the population employed in the industry. Respiratory hazards in barns, manure pits, machinery and silos range from acute to chronic air contaminants and may have various negative health effects.
Dust exposure is a particularly pressing occupational health and safety issue during grain production and unloading. Inhalation of grain dust may affect the nose and lungs and lead to a number of respiratory health problems. Soy dust in particular may lead to serious health conditions, since this product contains a number of recognised allergens. The use and unloading of soya products have been associated with allergies and occupational asthma.
In extreme cases, where other factors are involved, a significant amount of dry grain dust can result in explosions that may lead to injuries and closure of the facilities.
In fertilizer manufacturing, dust is generated once the three main ingredients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – are processed into a granular substance and moved by conveyor belts through a process that applies the coatings, mixes the product and packages it for shipping. Handling, transportation, unloading and equipment cleaning can also cause substantial dust release.
Fertiliser dust may contain a wide variety of metals and components that could be harmful to those exposed. It can lead to nose and throat irritation, various respiratory and immune problems and affect skin and eyes.
This type of dust is also particularly dangerous due to its high combustible qualities, so dust control during fertiliser manufacturing and handling cannot be overlooked.