Cement is a finely ground adhesive powdery substance that hardens when mixed with water and adheres to other materials to hold them together.

Cement: A fundamental but dangerous material for the health of the user

Several decades have witnessed the evolution of houses built with different materials. These materials were used because of their strength or consistency. The materials used by the first builders ranged from stone, wood, grasses to animal fibers. The use of cement was born in the 19th century by Joseph Aspdin in England.

Bamboo, thatch, wood and thatch were used before cement arrived in Nigeria in 1957. Because of its strength, strength and plasticity, it has stood the test of time for years and remains a fundamental material in the construction of buildings.

Cement is a finely ground adhesive powdery substance that hardens when mixed with water and adheres to other materials to hold them together. It is made of limestone, clay, and marl or shale and contains elements such as silicon dioxide, alkali, sulfur trioxide, etc. in measurable amounts.

From the beginning of the construction of a building, the mosaics, the plumbing, to the fencing of said building, cement is the main ingredient that contributes to its durability. It is like a rubber that acts as a stabilizer, fills cracks and holes, and is a tough surface against weather agents and other chemicals.

It is mainly plastered over arranged block surfaces to give a polished appearance and placement of foundations, roof construction, pillars, etc. The flowerpots and garden seats are also made of cement.

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It is evident that cement is an essential material for the construction of buildings and like any other material, perfection cannot be achieved and has secondary effects on the health of workers.

Cement is made up of certain elements that can be harmful to the health of users if they are not handled properly. Elements like silicon dioxide pose a major health threat when inhaled. The inhalation of cement dust is equivalent to the inhalation of silica dust, which causes various diseases of the lungs, such as pneumoconiosis, lung cancer, chronic chest problems and difficulty breathing.

Alkaline compounds are present in wet cement-based concrete and should not exceed 1% in its composition. When it touches the skin continuously and for a long period, it penetrates and burns the skin, leading to skin irritation and irritant dermatitis. When wet concrete remains in contact with the skin under a protective covering such as boots, it can cause lesions that lead to skin ulcers.

Exposure to sulfur trioxide can cause nausea and vomiting, skin burns, and eye irritation. When inhaled, it can irritate the nose, throat, and lungs.

Workers will inevitably be exposed to cement and cement dust, so they should protect their skin by wearing proper eye protection, civil engineer safety uniform, waterproof and alkali-resistant gloves and boots. They should also avoid frequent exposure to cement dust and remove any type of jewelry because it can trap wet cement.

Clothing that has accumulated clumps of wet cement during work should be removed and washed immediately.
Avoid washing hands in the same bucket used to wash construction tools. If exposed to cement dust or when inhaled, seek immediate medical attention.

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