Safe? Striking out dust on the ball field

We’re in the thick of baseball season. Parents are spending all their “free” weekend time at the ballfield, or carting their kids and their friends off to the next ballfield. It’s one of the traditions Americans have come to love as spring turns to summer and the sun shines down upon the diamond in all its glory.

While you’re sitting there in the stands cheering your excitable player on, have you ever wondered why they’re outfitted for a facemask to protect them from the ball but not a facemask (respirator) that protects them dust that gets kicked up with every fleeting step?

That may seem like a joke, but be assured, we’re not joking at all…

Fact is, the soil on the ballfield and the dust it emits can be likened to the dust that floats around on a construction site. Guess what they’re wearing? Yep. Masks.

“What?!”

It’s true.

That dust little Bobby is breathing into his lungs after sliding into second base is full of crystalline silica. And while Bobby stole the base safely, that kicked up dust is unsafe and sneakily stealing Bobby’s health one microbe at a time.

What is Crystalline silica?

Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite, and many other minerals. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica. Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Additionally, breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which in severe cases can be disabling, or even fatal. The respirable silica dust enters the lungs and causes the formation of scar tissue, thus reducing the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.

Further: Pm2.5 and pm10 sized crystalline silica particles lodge deep into lung tissue and stay embedded in your lungs for your entire life… Those numbers may not mean anything to you. In short, they’re quite smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Basically microscopic. When kicked up on the field, these particles can remain airborne for a solid 24-hours.

 

Don’t just take our word for it.

This is a studied matter. In fact, major organizations that have confirmed the warning of hazardous crystalline silica dangers include:

 

  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • American Lung Association (ALA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

 

So, if it’s known, why isn’t being addressed?

In short. Change is hard. It takes an investment – of money, and time. That said, isn’t your child’s health reason enough to ask the organization your affiliated with some questions? It’s not an easy subject. By-and-large, dust is ignored and “just there.” That said, remember in the 60s and 70s when you could smoke on a plane? Or up until even more recently, in a restaurant? Remember when asbestos and lead paint were used in ALL the houses constructed across the country at that time?

 

Here’s the skinny:

The dust and health deterring particles your young player inhales can be easily prevented. In fact, it’s 100% preventable.

A common way some groundcrews keep dust at bay is by watering the soil of the diamond (STRIKE one). The problem is, watering only lasts so long before the sun dries it out – oftentimes before a game culminates, thus knocking us right back to square one (STRIKE two). The flipside of that coin is that, if you use too much water, you’re bound to start creating mud, which will inevitably lead to tracking, clumping, caking, and other issues that can spread throughout the ballpark (STRIKE three).

Enter Global Environmental Solutions. We’ve spent a great deal of time creating better, smarter, and safer ballfields for our kids, friends, and families across the nation. How do we do it? That would come in the form of our Dustless® product, which we rolled out back in 2002. Dustless® is a long lasting non-toxic, non-hazardous liquid that absorbs into particles and prevents them from becoming airborne. Sun does not dry it out and rain cannot wash it from the dirt. The only reason Dustless® needs to be re­applied is if it is covered over with new material or buried deep by due to the tilling of the terrain. The lifespan of Dustless® can last as long as several seasons with a single application depending on environmental variables (of which, we be quite happy to discuss).

 

What have we learned?

Dust is not just dust. As it applies to the baseball diamond, dust is a real health hazard that is preventable if we choose to recognize it for what it really is. It’s not up to the players to control it, it’s up to the towns, leagues, parents, coaches and umpires to protect the players and ensure the fields are free from hazards before, during, and after play. It’s not hard to get control, and it’s even easier to keep control once you’ve established it. Baseball and all it represents is supposed to be fun. It’s “America’s favorite pastime.” Let’s keep on enjoying its rich tradition, and expand upon the safety of our baseball facilities. Together we can create lasting memories while bringing safer facilities to fruition. We can achieve this. All it takes is a single swing and we can knock it out of the park. Give GES a shout today, and take us out to the ballgame. We’ll root for the home team and quickly get to the root of dusty field conditions…