When cutting, drilling or grinding concrete there are two main methods to control harmful concrete dust, wet cutting or dry cutting. Knowing when to use each method is an important consideration to improve safety, choosing the right machinery, preserving saws and drills and managing environmental impacts.
What are the dangers of concrete dust?
First things first, concrete dust is very harmful to your health. Silica dust from concrete is so fine it gets into the lungs and cannot be expelled completely, leading to a health condition known as silicosis. Silicosis can eventually lead to lung cancer and very difficult to treat. Cutting concrete indoors with limited airflow increases the risk of silicosis so appropriate measures need to be taken. Read more on being safe with concrete dust.
Cutting Concrete with Water
What is it?
Wet concrete cutting involves a constant stream of water directed at the cutting surface to prevent the concrete cutting dust from becoming airborne.
Studies have shown that using water to control concrete dust is 85% more effective in containing dust than using dust extraction techniques. Having water directed at the cutting surface while cutting prevents the dust from becoming air-borne in the first place so reduces the chance of being inhaled or settling on surrounding furniture or valuables. Cutting blades will also last longer as the water acts as a lubricant and coolant.
It requires a reliable water supply either from the water mains or a portable reservoir. It needs to be used on equipment that will be safe to use when in contact with water. There also needs to be both sufficient containment and disposal of the concrete slurry (a mixture of the concrete dust and water).
Cutting Concrete with Dust Extractors
What is it?
Dry concrete cutting uses a customised dust extractor is attached to the concrete saw, drill or grinder and sucks the concrete dust as it’s created and catches it in a bag.
Using an extractor is more versatile as there is no need to connect a water supply. Electrical saws can also freely be used with an extractor without risk of electrocution. Lastly, the cleanup is easier with the dust contained to a sealed plastic bag.
The main drawback of dust extractors are that it is far less effective in containing air-borne concrete dust. No matter how good the extractor is there will still be concrete dust in the air so there is still a significant risk of concrete dust being inhaled. Diamond coated blades will also wear down quicker when cutting dry concrete. Lastly, the captured concrete dust still needs to be disposed of appropriately.
When cutting concrete, it is important to be aware of the pros and cons of cutting concrete in both a wet and dry environment. It can affect the cleanup, longevity of your saw but most importantly the level of harmful concrete dust. Using a professional concrete cutter can ensure cutting concrete is done in the most safe and effective means possible.
Mastercut Concrete have been cutting concrete in Sydney for over 20 years and have a fleet of skilled and mobile concrete cutters to cut, drill or grind concrete for you when you need it. Contact 02 9755 5505 for a free consultation and quote or complete an online quote request.