Editor’s note: I’m very liberal about reader comments. So long as you aren’t calling people names or snapping at them, your opinion is your opinion. But I’ve detected some pooh-poohing in comments about the cement dust spill at the port the other day. You’d think the people living near the spill whose porches were covered with cement dust were snowflakes.
For the pooh-poohers, and for people who are more seriously concerned about cement dust, I’ve rounded up some studies indicating that not only is cement dust a concern in Fernandina Beach, it’s been studied and warned about around the world.
Cement Plant Neighbors in Korea – Study
Purpose: Portland cement contains carcinogens such as chromium and free silica, and hence, inhalation of cement dust can cause respiratory tract cancers. The purpose of this study was to determine whether living near a cement plant increases the risk of respiratory tract cancers.
Methods: The study population consisted of 341,793 people, all of whom lived in administrative districts within a 3-km radius of 10 cement plants in Korea. The respiratory tract cancer incidence data (International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision code C00-C14 and C30-C34) for 2008-2012 were obtained from regional cancer registries. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for each cancer site in the respiratory tract were calculated using an indirect standardization method.
Results: Compared with the general Korean population, the incidence of lung and bronchus cancer (C33-C34) was significantly higher in all subjects [SIR 1.15, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02-1.29] and especially in the men subjects (SIR 1.47, 95% CI 1.29-1.68) in our study population. In addition, the incidence of larynx cancer in men (SIR 1.64, 95% CI 0.97-2.59) and salivary gland cancer in women (SIR 3.03, 95% CI 0.98-7.07) living near cement plants was marginally increased.
Conclusions: These results suggest that environmental exposure to Portland cement dust is a risk factor for respiratory tract cancer.
Cement Dust Hazards (OSHA)
Avoid exposure to cement dust to prevent bronchitis and silicosis.
Prevent burns and skin and eye irritation by avoiding skin contact and eye contact with cement dust or wet cement.
Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves, boots, goggles or HEPA-filter respirators.
Avoid dusty areas and wet down work areas, as appropriate, to reduce or eliminate dust.
Saudi Medical Journal Study
Cement dust causes lung function impairment, chronic obstructive lung disease, restrictive lung disease, pneumoconiosis and carcinoma of the lungs, stomach and colon. Other studies have shown that cement dust may enter into the systemic circulation and thereby reach essentially all the organs of the body and affects the different tissues including the heart, liver, spleen, bone, muscles, and hairs and ultimately affecting their micro-structure and physiological performance.
A Study in the Congo
Chronic exposure to cement dust may induce adverse health effects, including a significant decrease in lung function. The study investigated whether the prevalence of COPD and respiratory symptoms was associated with working at different tasks exposed to varying levels of cement dust. Working at certain tasks exposed to cement dust is associated with the higher prevalence of COPD and respiratory symptoms. A greater risk is among cleaning, transportation, and production workers.
And there’s much more. But I’m pretty sure I could wear Google out looking for a study that says cement dust on the loose is not serious business. If you wish to address city or port officials about this or any other issue, go to the City Commission meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall or the port commissioners meeting at 6 p.m. at the Lime Street city police building.