Have your eyes caught specks of drywall dust while working?
If it does, you must clean it fast and not let it sit in your eyes longer. For a reminder and a warning, do not wait for any signs of irritation and pain.
For people working in cabinetry, carpentry, and drywall installation, drywall exposure dust is nothing new. With daily exposure, they must feel immune from its possible effects. And in this stage, the dust is powder-like and so fine to see or feel. So, understandably, the pain may not last that long.
But even if the irritation is short-felt, you still need to remove them, even if the pain subsides. You have no idea what your eyes may go through in the long term.
But as someone who has been working on wood and drywall for a considerably long time, you should not let those specks have any chance to rest on your eyes.
For this reason, we created an all-inclusive guide to cleaning your eyes quickly and safely.
What is Drywall Dust? And How Does It Get into the Eye?
Drywall dust is a fine powder produced when trimming, installing, or removing drywall. The drywall, from which the dust was made, is a material used in building and construction widely.
When the drywall has been sanded, cut, or demolished, it will produce fine particles that blow and stays in the air.
But no matter how small or large the drywall particles are, they could still pose risks to anyone exposed. Imagine these fine bits of powder getting into the eyes, its effects are unlike ordinary specks of dust.
In small amounts, drywall should not harm your body. Short-term exposure should not bring long-term diseases. Unless you have skin allergies, it should not affect your skin. But if you work with drywall without a mask habitually, you may acquire long-term lung problems.
To put it simply, drywall should not be harmful to the eyes. But the dust it makes irritates the eyes and throat.
What do you Need to Know about Drywall?
Drywall comprises gypsum or calcium sulfate dihydrate, paper, silica, talc, and additives that may include clay or resin.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The gypsum content in the drywall is inflammable.
- Unless you have allergies, the gypsum will not affect your skin.
- The drywall dust will irritate the nose, eyes, throat, and mouth.
- Its long-term effects lie in the habitual working with drywall without a mask.
- The drywall dust particle is around ten micrometers, about 1/7 inch diameter of the human hair strand.
- Former imported Chinese drywall from 2004 to 2005 contained silica and other chemicals and brought respiratory problems to Florida residents in 2008.
- Those affected by Chinese drywall reported shortness of breath, sore throat, and skin and eye irritation.
- The Drywall Safety Act of 2012 mandates manufacturers must not exceed ten parts of a million sulfur in drywall products.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set workplace standards for employees exposed to drywall.
What are the Risks of Drywall Dust in the Eyes?
The eyes are sensitive organs that can easily catch any type of dust in the eyes. But even with its defenses, like the eyelashes, tearing, and blinking reflexes, the eyes are still susceptible to tiny particles like drywall dust.
The discomfort of catching drywall dust includes different types of irritation. It can be itching, redness, burning sensation, watery eyes, or blurred vision. Eyes can easily get irritated, and it is the first symptom of catching drywall dust in the eyes.
When drywall dust sets in the eyes for longer, it may cause corneal abrasion and infections. Any of the two can cause more eye irritation.
Also known as cornea abrasion, cornea scratch is an injury made by drywall dust on the protective layer of the eyes called the cornea. This injury is more prevalent on drywall exposure on the eyes that was not flushed away immediately. We’ve seen many cases where the drywall dust gets trapped in the eyelids and cornea for a long time. When the eye tried to move, it slowly tears up the cornea causing ultimate pain and discomfort. When this happens, it increases eye infection.
Drywall exposure could lead to various eye infections. The most common eye infection from drywall is conjunctivitis.
Conjunctivitis is an infection that causes redness and inflammation in the thin membrane between the eyeballs and eyelids. Sometimes called pink eye, this eye infection is prevalent for drywall professionals wearing contact lenses while at work, and rubbing their eyes makes it worse.
Although the infection usually goes away within 7 to 14 days, you must not leave it untreated to avoid further complications.
Dry eyes happen when your eyes cannot produce enough tears or the tears evaporate easily.
The condition can result in discomfort and sometimes blurred vision. When you have dried eyes, you can have difficulty opening your eyes. The pain can go from being gritty to being sensitive.
Possible visual impairment
Although unlikely, you can get visually impaired if you leave drywall dust infection and injury untreated in the cornea. This part protects the eye and helps focus sight on the light. But when this part suffers an abrasion, it can get an infection that worsens.
Symptoms of Drywall Dust in the Eyes
In some cases, you may not even feel anything because the dust is so fine. If you have been working with drywall, you do not have to wait for symptoms. Clean it at once.
Here are the symptoms to not ignore:
- Burning sensation
- Blurred Vision
- Light sensitivity
At this point, you might be experiencing corneal abrasion. The first thing to do is clean your eyes and hydrate it. After this, seek medical help.
How to Clean Drywall Dust in Your Eyes Safely and Fast?
Leaving drywall dust in the eye can cause corneal abrasion, conjunctivitis, or cornea ulcer. For this reason, you need to clean it after exposure or after you handle drywall at work.
Flush your eyes
There are different ways to flush your eyes. By letting water naturally remove the drywall dust in your eyes, you are removing it safely. However, it can be challenging since you will need to open your eyes most of the time. In general, flush your eyes within 15 minutes and make sure you have clean hands.
- Method 1 Use the shower
In this method, you will let the water in the shower run into your eyes. Stand under the shower and let warm water run down your forehead until it reaches your eyes. With minimal settings, let the water flow and keep your eyes open the whole time if you can. Do this for about fifteen minutes at the least. Avoid tilting your head.
- Method 2 Flush it with running water.
Bend your head into the sink and let water from the faucet run into your face. Keep your eyes open under the running water as much as you can. You can do this by tilting your head lightly and as long as your eyes can hold onto the running water. Or, you can stop a few times when you need to, then let it run again on the water.
- Method 3 Use a container.
You can also use a clean container to pour water into the eyes. Just fill a pitcher with water, bend your head into a sink, and pour it in with your eyes open.
- Method 4 Use a pan.
A reliable way to flush dust from your eyes, fill a pan with warm water. Plunge your face into the pan while blinking.
You need to move your eyes to remove the drywall dust in your eyes. You can do this along flushing your eyes. First, lift your eyelids and try to move your eyeball around. Release your eyelids.
Another way you can release the drywall dust is to keep blinking. Move your eyes close and shut repeatedly to encourage tears to push the dust away from your eyes.
However, this method does not guarantee to remove drywall dust in the eyes.
Wipe with Washcloth
You can also try your luck by wiping your eyes with a washcloth. However, this does not guarantee the washcloth will remove all the drywall dust. To do this, you can use a warm washcloth to clean your eyes. Gently place it in your eyes to encourage tears to run down. The heat and washcloth moisture will push more tears so drywall dust will floor smoothly away from the eyes.
Use optical drops
Optical drops have added elements more than tears that help lubricate the eye surface. You can initially use over-the-counter cleansing and lubrication drops to help relieve your eyes’ burning sensation. It doesn’t need a prescription. Make sure your eyes are clean and put about two to three drops of the solution on each eye or as instructed on the label.
How to Avoid Getting Drywall Dust into the Eyes?
- Wear protective gear like dust, safety goggles, and safety overall.
- Lift one drywall panel at a time.
- Wear a mask when sanding.
- Use a sander dust collector.
- Consider wet sanding.
- Always clean your hands and wash your face after work.
- Keep your area well-ventilated.
In general, drywall dust should not harm your eyes. You can manage drywall dust with a few precautions, even if you must deal with it every day.
The material is safe, and much of its previous safety and hazard issues have been resolved with the Drywall Safety Act. You can also expect drywall manufacturers today to comply with the regulated silica content. So most of the drywall today is safe.
All you need to know are a few drywall dust flushing know-how to make your daily work with drywall safe.
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