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Bolting: Silicosis and Respirators


Original Post
Brandon Fields · · Boulder · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 445

I drill, grind and break quartz for my living and then in my spare time im out drilling granite and developing sport routes/breaking stones for bouldering landing zones. I've often thought about the possibilities of silicosis and after a particularly windy day placing anchors at eye level and getting blasted in the face with rock dust im starting to really wonder if i should be using a respirator.

Is anyone using respirators while bolting/rock working? If so, any recommends on models, etc?

Parker Kempf · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 210

I know Andrew McDowell had a crazy immune system collapse like 8 years ago or so and he believed it was due in part to silicosis, he did A TON of ground up drilling in NC. Once he recovered he figured out a respirator system and never had any more issues....but i dont know if hes on the proj to get beta from or if he even climbs anymore.... Nathan Brown might know.
This is all super unhelpful, but at least you know someone has had a gnarly hospitilization experience that **might** have to do with the amount of silica dust he was inhaling

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,510

Drill vacs are now an osha requirement, I have a Milwaukee model that's pretty awesome.

Respirator can't hurt, but get the vented one not just the mask.

That said, I doubt a recreational driller will have much risk.

Abandoned User · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 6,720

Your kinda right TB.
Exposure to less than 25 micrograms in a cubic meter of air does not require any shroud or vac system. This is over an 8 hour time weighted average.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,510
s.price wrote: Your kinda right TB.
Exposure to less than 25 micrograms in a cubic meter of air does not require any shroud or vac system. This is over an 8 hour time weighted average.

Yea, I carry my Milwaukee air tester everywhere I go.

dnoB ekiM · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 3,131
Tradiban wrote:

Yea, I carry my Milwaukee air tester everywhere I go.

Would be neat to see what kind of readings you get outside with no wind drilling a single hole at face/shoulder level.  

Abandoned User · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 6,720

When did Milwaukee start making a particulate meter?
All of my meters are Milwaukee except for my particulate meter.

To the OP, I agree with TB, doubt you should be too concerned.
Do you use one at work? If wearing one would make you feel better then yes.

Brandon Fields · · Boulder · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 445

TB: I hadn't even considered a drill vac for some reason. I'm gonna look into that for sure! Seems like a good way to collect some rock dust for potential glue-in/patching down the road as well! :D

Parker: I believe i had heard that story about Andrew McDowell somewhere a while back and it may have been one of the things that wormed the fear of silicosis into my head. I've too often found myself blowing gobs of rock dust and dirt out of my nose after my back country trips.

S.Price: You're saying 25mcg per cubic meter for a sustained 8 hour period is the tolerance limit? I'll have to take some time and research this. I find it pretty interesting.

Part of my concern is that at work im also drilling, cutting and grinding quartz crystals as i'm a jeweler. Maybe i should look into a particulate meter for work and worry less about my outdoor endeavors.

Abandoned User · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 6,720

Brandon, that's what OSHA states.
I care deeply for my employees and my bottom line (in that order) so I geek out on OSHA. Health is priceless. OSHA very expensive.

M Sprague · · New England · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 5,014

It is not just for drilling. We really should be using them while doing cleaning, along with safety glasses that seal around the eyes. Beside not filling your lungs with cancer causing substances and mold spores or scratching your eyeball, you can work a lot faster not having to half lean away and squint. 

M Sprague · · New England · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 5,014
s.price wrote: When did Milwaukee start making a particulate meter?
All of my meters are Milwaukee except for my particulate meter.

To the OP, I agree with TB, doubt you should be too concerned.
Do you use one at work? If wearing one would make you feel better then yes.

Don't you have a long history of glue intake though?

J Squared · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2017 · Points: 0

i never knew about particulate air measuring devices...

now I need to test one out in my local gym... the air is basically made of chalk. 

Brandon Fields · · Boulder · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 445

M Sprague: The closed safety glasses is one that i need to follow through on for sure. I've definitely had a lot of eye irritation after long days of cleaning and bolting and never really thought much of it.

Brandon Fields · · Boulder · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 445

J Squared: Haha. No joke. I honestly think that i get more respiratory irritation at the bouldering gym than from anything i do outside. :p

Abandoned User · · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 6,720
M Sprague wrote:

Don't you have a long history of glue intake though?

Placed some glue in bolts. No more than that. 

Good point though. Hindsight says I should have thought about that. Wasn't related to work so I guess it never occurred to me.

Live and learn :)
M Sprague · · New England · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 5,014
s.price wrote:

Placed some glue in bolts. No more than that. 

Haha, sorry, I was thinking you were a shoe repair guy. Must be confused (put in a lot of glue-ins over the years too). Took me 30 years to take the idea of  a face mask and glasses a little more seriously.

Jon W · · Longmont Colorado · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 75
https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=675253856

Miners are having to cut through silica to get the coal out and it is causing some serious problems.
Kelley Gilleran · · Sacramento, Ca · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 2,800
Brandon Fields · · Boulder · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 445

Kelley: Lol. White lung is what you get at climbing gyms.

Kris Fiore · · Burlington, VT · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 2,601

I just asked my girlfriend who is a doctor if I should wear something while bolting... her response:

"You don't already!?"

Yeah... you could get... [a list of big words that I couldn't understand none of which sounded like they mean "happy healthy lungs"]

Looks like I'll be investing in something come springtime.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,510
s.price wrote: When did Milwaukee start making a particulate meter?
All of my meters are Milwaukee except for my particulate meter.

To the OP, I agree with TB, doubt you should be too concerned.
Do you use one at work? If wearing one would make you feel better then yes.

I was joking about the meter because I don't care what OSHA says no exposure is acceptable to me and no one is walking around with a meter, except you is seems, while work is actually going on.

That said sometimes I can't fit the vac where i want and/or I forgot my mask so I go for it. I pretty sure I won't die too early.

Regarding chalk, I've done a solid 18 years in gyms, 11 of which were full time. I had the doc check me out a few times and lungs seem to be all good. Everything I read basically says chalk wont clog the lungs like asbestos or silica because.... science.

The world is really dusty and the human body is made to deal with it, it's certain particulates that are the problem.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Fixed Hardware: Bolts & Anchors
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