Home builders and remodelers use a variety of tools and techniques to reduce the amount of dust created in homes they are working on. And one potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic might be less dust during construction.
In mid-March, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) encouraged home builders and subcontractors to donate their N-95 respirators to local healthcare facilities to protect frontline workers battling the pandemic. The N-95 is a popular mask used to protect against dust inhalation. Since many states allowed home building to continue, builders had to reduce exposure to dust in other ways.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has guidance on reducing dust exposure through work practice controls. These techniques include:
- Use wet operations (i.e., a saw that is connected to a water hose) when possible to reduce airborne dust concentrations.
- Provide appropriate ventilation to reduce dust concentration levels in the air.
- Maintain adequate housekeeping to remove unwanted dust and reduce concentration levels.
In addition to these practices, many builders and contractors use sanders equipped with vacuum dust collection systems to take in dust as it is generated.
When a home is occupied during construction work – generally remodeling – plastic sheeting is used to separate the areas of the home where work is occurring from the areas in use by the homeowners. This helps prevent dust from drifting into living spaces.
Advice for homeowners
And as a homeowner living with the construction, you can do your part by discussing these work practice controls and methods with your contractor before construction begins. For the homeowner and others who may be living in the home during the construction, this can include not entering areas separated by plastic sheeting or otherwise entering the work area. If you ever experience issues with dust during construction activity, be sure to talk to your contractor. They will certainly double their efforts to mitigate dust in your property.