It is important to understand how cleaning the air in industrial workplaces can contribute to the overall quality of external air, helping to safeguard both – the environment and the health of workers. Further, it is now widely understood around the world that a range of substances found in manufacturing environments can be extremely hazardous to human health — both through harm caused to the respiratory system and the potential to cause accidents, such as, slips, fires and damage to equipment.
Extraction systems, to remove any airborne particles from industrial workplaces, have been in use for a number of years, but the older models simply moved the problem rather than solving it. Thus, pollutants were extracted and exhausted outside instead of being removed altogether. Additionally, the tons of oil mist, fumes and dust escape through open doors and windows from facilities with ineffective extraction systems. These, combined together, make a significant contribution to the high levels of atmospheric pollution still experienced by some countries around the world.
Poor air quality: Health implications
Exposure to oil mist can result in a number of health issues, including dermatitis, occupational asthma and extrinsic allergic alveolitis. Untreated and unattended oil mist in the atmosphere can pose as a fire hazard and at times, even a slip hazard. It can also damage sensitive electrical equipments. The regulations controlling exposure to oil mist differ around the world. For example, in the US, the time weighted average (TWA) exposure limit set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently 5 mg/m3, whereas in Sweden, it is 1 mg/m3. By ensuring that the air quality in industrial workplaces is clean and safe to breathe, the businesses benefit with improved employee recruitment and retention, increased efficiency, sustainability and productivity.
An Environmental Performance Index (EPI) report produced by Yale University highlighted the fact that global air quality is worsening. Some of the worst air quality was recorded from China and India, which was attributed to increasing industrialisation, high urbanisation and population growth. The 2014 EPI states that “Particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, known in shorthand as PM2.5, are fine enough to lodge deep into human lungs and blood tissue. They place exposed populations at risk of heart and lung diseases, ranging from stroke to lung cancer. In severe cases, they can lead to direct fatalities.”
Employees in India are protected against the exposure to dust and fume under the Section 14 (1) of the Factories Act, 1948 which extends to the whole of India. The Act states, “In every factory, in which, by reason of the manufacturing process carried on, there is given off any dust or fume or other impurity of such a nature and to such an extent as is likely to be injurious or offensive to the workers employed therein, or any dust in substantial quantities, effective measures shall be taken to prevent its inhalation and accumulation in any workroom, and if any exhaust appliance is necessary for this purpose, it shall be applied as near as possible to the point of origin of the dust, fume or other impurity, and such point shall be enclosed so far as possible.”
Industrial pollution: Hazardous impact
The prolonged contact with air of such poor quality inside a manufacturing or engineering facility can have significantly harmful short and long-term effects on the health of individuals. Subsequently, it would also affect employee morale and motivation and the productivity and profitability of a business.
Industrial pollution from unclean air can be a common cause of slippery floors within a manufacturing setting, posing serious implications from a health and safety perspective, with slips and trips remaining one of the most common causes of major injury in workplaces. Such occurrences can be potentially devastating for not only the individual involved, but also for the wider organisation — from injury claims, lost working days, lower productivity levels and subsequent financial burdens. Oil used in many manufacturing processes is also highly inflammable and there is a prominent hazard of it catching fire from any electrical or associated heat source.
Working to provide pollutant-free air within any manufacturing or engineering facility can not only protect employees from hazardous airborne contaminants (or others), thereby reducing liability for employers and any associated compensation costs, but also dramatically reduce the risk of catastrophic fires. An effective oil mist, smoke, dust and fume extraction equipment can make a significant difference to the air quality inside manufacturing facilities — leading to reductions in health problems, accident risks and hazardous pollutants in the atmosphere. The most effective method of dealing with all airborne hazards is to remove them at source, before they have the time to escape into the workplace and, potentially, the external atmosphere.
Oil mist: Potential health hazards
Oil mist can be collected in a number of different ways. However, centrifugal systems have been found to be one of the most cost effective and efficient methods, and are currently used in a wide range of manufacturing applications in industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, defence and food production. After the removal of dangerous particles, the re-cycled oil or coolant can be re-used (saving money), and wittingly, the employees are protected from the potential health hazards associated.
Industrial lubricants are used in a variety of manufacturing processes, including milling, drilling, grinding, turning and finishing operations. Oil mist is created when metalworking fluids are sprayed by machine tools to help lubricate the tool or keep metal components cool.
Manufacturers initially used water to cool the surface of the metal and then moved on to other types of lubrication technologies as speeds and efficiencies increased. Today’s modern machine shops use a variety of fluids depending on the purpose of the application. There are different types of metalworking fluids used during machining and grinding processes. Each has its own specific properties but they all have one thing in common — they all generate airborne mist particles when sprayed.
Oil mist particles, larger than 3.5 microns in size, are separated in the nose and throat, whilst particles smaller than 1 micron are absorbed into the bloodstream. Particles between these sizes are retained by the throat, bronchial tubes and lungs, causing a variety of occupational diseases. It is these particles which infinity oil mist collectors are designed to effectively remove from workplace air.
Oil mist: Removal methodology
Some manufacturers rely on general ventilation. But a far more effective and widely recognised method of removing oil mist is the Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV), which captures, contains and treats contaminated air at its source, even before it has the opportunity to escape into a wider working environment.
Infinity oil mist collectors are classified as LEV. A specially designed fan is coupled to a three-phase motor, which draws contaminated air up through the filter. Oil mist particles are captured by an advanced synthetic filter and clean air is returned to the factory. When the filter is full, it can easily be removed and washed for re-use. Infinity oil mist collectors are manufactured to the highest standards in the UK for efficient, easy, cost effective oil and coolant mist removal. It ensures several advantages to the manufacturing shops, including low energy consumption; efficient oil mist filter performance; oil mist, coolant mist and fumes removal at source; multiple mounting options; low-cost maintenance; quiet operation and high performance; and compact construction.
Elaborating further on the advantages, Ashutosh Arora, Business Development Manager — India, Infinity Mist Collectors, shares, “Infinity oil mist collectors offer a costeffective way of ensuring oil mist is eliminated at the source before it has an opportunity to enter the factory air. Compact and lightweight, Infinity oil mist collectors are mounted directly onto machine tools, meaning that they do not take up valuable floor space. Superior air quality means that the machinery requires less cleaning and lower levels of maintenance, and can help ensure that the machinery remains functioning effectively, and that any breakdowns (and periods of downtime) are kept to a minimum.”
In this way, any manufacturing facility today can overcome the challenges of industrial pollution and control and manage the prolonged contact with air of poor quality inside a manufacturing or engineering facility, which can have a significantly harmful short and long-term effect on the health of individuals and also affect employee morale and motivation, and the productivity and profitability of a business.
Courtesy: Tecroot Space(OPC)