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Dust and debris are common occurrences on a construction site; thus, dust and debris containment is an essential part of any construction process. So! What’s the big deal? A layman may ask. However, if you look closely, it’s not all as simple as it sounds.

On a construction site, there are various sources of hazardous dust particles which if not checked, can create severe long-term health problems not only for you and your construction workers but also for people working in and around construction sites.

Let us look at some of the scenarios during the construction of commercial and residential projects when you need dust and debris containment to prevent the migration of contaminants while work is being done.

Scenario 1: Dust and Debris Containment at a Pharmaceutical Plant

In pharmaceutical industries manufacturing life-saving drugs, it is very important to provide an interior protection system with great attention to detail as each facility has a unique layout with different production equipment and specific priorities for the site besides keeping their products safe and clean.

For instance, while electro-polishing bioreactors produce extremely sensitive products the entire room of reactors cannot be shut down to get the project done and you need to isolate one bioreactor at a time to prevent contamination. Moreover, each dust and debris containment area needs appropriate allowances for negative air pressure.

For this, you need to create enclosed spaces with virtually no tie-off points. Install frameless walls along with a double layer of tarp material around each bioreactor and provide ceilings in the most critical spaces along with zipper access openings where needed. Also, incorporate a series of small HEPA air machines to help ensure air pressure stability.

Scenario 2: Protect Heavy Equipment and Machinery at Construction Site

During a re-roofing project, you need to protect the equipment/machinery for production areas, while meeting the FDA’s high standards for air quality and cleanliness. Moreover, there are concerns about the sprinkler system being impacted by the suspended cover installation near or below fire sprinkler heads, especially in sensitive environments.

To address such concerns, there is the Hot Drop Away and Green Drop Away systems in Temporary Suspended Ceilings to ensure that the Fire Suppression Systems will continue to function as they were supposed to, throughout the Temporary Interior Protection Process.

Should there be a fire, these systems have in-built mechanisms that trigger the plastic covers or polyurethane sheets to fall away thereby ensuring that the flames or plumes of smoke reach the sprinkler system, thus activating them to function as they were supposed to.

Scenario 3: During Re-Roofing at a Manufacturing Plant

During a full re-roof of a manufacturing plant, the production schedule runs 24/7 and cannot be interrupted because the product is in constant demand. Extremely tight conditions on the facility floor and very high ceilings require special lifts.

Moreover, the suspended cover has to be installed below the sprinklers since the metal roof deck may be too close to the sprinkler heads. Without interrupting production using a suspended cover with Hot Drop Away and Green Drop Away systems ensure that the sprinkler system is not impaired and the functionality of the dust and debris containment is not compromised.

Scenario 4: Dust and Debris Containment at Food and Beverage Processing Factories

In the food and beverage industry, during the replacement of their sanitary lines, concrete cutting is required which produces a great amount of dust and debris that threatens the quality of the manufactured products. Not only are the food products to be protected from debris, but the conduits above also have to be protected from secondary contamination.

To protect both, the work area needs to be completely secluded from the construction zone. A total enclosure needs to contain the construction area, allowing everything outside of the dust and debris containment including food products, employees, equipment, and conduits to be dust-free. During concrete cutting, a water connection may be required to keep the machine’s blade cool, which causes the construction dust to become wet.

Wet debris can splatter and stick to surfaces, so this area needs to be contained. Also, doors need to be provided for employee and equipment access, besides HEPA filters to ensure clean air circulation. Total Enclosures and HEPA filters are often paired together so that no foods are contaminated and no dust is leaked outside of the dust and debris containment enclosure.

Scenario 5: Dust and Debris Containment at Educational Institutions

Unique challenges are met during renovation, restoration, and re-roofing projects at educational institutions such as universities and colleges. Many of the facilities at campuses are aging and require extensive ongoing renovations and maintenance. Whether an institution is renovating or re-roofing, interior protection is a significant option to consider for effective dust and debris containment.

When planning for construction the areas such as arenas, field houses, laboratories, and libraries need to be considered individually and differently. Protection of assets, investments, and people is a key issue and it should be ensured that construction projects do not impede, or compromise a campus environment, by effective dust and debris containment.

While planning renovations or re-roofing at an institution, you need to consider whether the work area needs to be fully functional throughout the construction timeline, if it contains valuable items or assets, or if people need to be able to access the work area safely. Installing temporary walls or suspended cover to isolate the construction zone will help avoid potential damage to existing structures or valuable assets. The fully sealed wall or suspended cover will collect any dust and debris, preventing it from spreading outside the construction area.

For instance, during renovation or re-roofing in libraries, archives, laboratories, and sports facilities, it will allow people to access areas safely and also restrict them to the areas that are safe to access. For instance, during renovations near hallways, classroom buildings, or sporting and events facilities.

Also Limits Ongoing Cleanup

Rather than having to cover valuables and keep cleaning throughout the project, interior protection limits the maintenance requirements by capturing the dirt until the project is complete. For instance, while re-roofing in public areas, offices, or over technical equipment.

It helps maintain a professional appearance. Innumerable visitors, alumni, and potential students visit an institution’s campus. Dust and debris containment can provide the professional clean look that every institution values. For instance, in high-traffic and public areas.

Scenario 6: Dust and Debris Containment at the time of Installing HVAC Systems

HVAC systems support the functionality of business facilities. Thus, it is important to replace old systems or ductwork regularly in a timely and safe manner. For instance, an automotive manufacturer who has scheduled HVAC maintenance or repairs may not be able to afford downtime to avoid potential damage to the contents of their facility.

New HVAC systems may involve work on the roof that can lead to dust falling inside the facility. A suspended cover can be custom installed in the area to prevent this. If there is ductwork being done inside the building, a wall can be added to create a complete enclosure.

This method of dust and debris containment would ensure that machinery, products, and employees are not disturbed or impacted by the dust or debris particles.

Scenario 7: During Replacement or Repair of Commercial Refrigeration Units

Many processing and manufacturing facilities depend on refrigeration units. If replacement or repair is needed, they may need to isolate an area of the facility to avoid disruption or downtime. Bigger projects in cluttered manufacturing facilities create visual and physical impacts on the area involved.

A temporary wall can prevent any negative impacts on daily operations with effective dust and debris containment and cleanly separate the construction workers from the foods, their ingredients, machinery, and employees. 

Scenario 8: During Plumbing at Manufacturing Facilities

Many manufacturing facilities have plumbing running through the floor. If existing pipes in the floor have to be repaired or replaced, the concrete would need to be drilled or cut. This creates an unsafe environment allowing the possibility of dust migration and silica dust inhalation.

A total enclosure is ideal for dust and debris containment separating the section of floor and plumbing being worked on, from the rest of the facility. This would ensure that particles cannot escape and impact the workers, equipment, or products making your project safer, cleaner, and better organized.

Scenario 9: Dust and Debris Containment at Healthcare Facilities

Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA) is a procedure that all healthcare facilities must adhere to during any construction project within occupied spaces. This helps to establish appropriate infection control measures depending upon the nature of the project. The level of ICRA procedure ranges from Class I to Class IV.

While Class I and II do not necessarily require an interior protection system, Class III and Class IV ICRA both need to manage the risk of infection and contamination during construction. Hence, the need for temporary dust containment walls, HVAC alterations to ensure negative air pressure in the work areas, temporary ante-rooms to act as transition points between work and clean areas, and regular monitoring of dust, air quality, and overall compliance with safety and cleanliness standards.

Most ICRA guidelines call for temporary barriers made of polyethylene sheeting, sheetrock, or both. Temporary dust barriers need to be fully sealed, impermeable, and able to withstand negative air pressure situations. Temporary walls tend to be less expensive, cleaner, more flexible, and a better customizable solution for dust and debris containment than hard walls.

Scenario 10: Dust and Debris Containment at Residential Buildings

Another scenario where dust and debris containment is a must, is during the remodeling or re-roofing of a residential building, to protect its residents, visitors, home appliances, and other assets.

Window Protection:

All windows must be covered in plastic for dust and debris containment. Even those windows that need to be opened must be covered instead of removed. Remove all the screens from any window or door and label them so that they can go back to the right place, once the work is done. They should be wrapped in plastic and stacked away in a safe out-of-the-way location.

Dust Barrier:

A temporary wall is a great dust barrier to keep dust from migrating to other parts of the house and is an effective dust and debris containment solution. Double up the plastic at the top for a more secure hold. Write ‘Don’t Lean on Wall‘ with a marker to prevent unfortunate accidents.

Protect Bathtubs:

Protect the bathtubs by covering them with thick, tough rubbery coating brushed or rolled on them, and then peeling them off once the job is done. Usually, a double coating is needed.

Keep Mud Away:

Keeping the mud out of the house is a challenge during house remodeling. Temporary plywood walkways and wood chips paths are a couple of options to consider.

Protect Countertops:

Protect countertops from nicks and scratches by covering them with cardboard. Use clean cardboard and wipe the counter before laying it down. Tape the edges to ensure dust and debris containment and to keep the cardboard from sliding around.

Protect Outside Corners:

Protect outside corners with strips of cardboard. Be sure the cardboard extends at least 4 ft. high, and hold it in place with painter’s tape, which won’t ruin the paint, when it’s removed.

Keep Plastic Threshold Protectors:

Avoid the wear and tear of thresholds. Some new doors come with plastic threshold protectors. Keep those in place until the end of the project. Use tape to protect those doors that don’t come with a protector, as well as existing doors that will be used a lot during the remodel. A couple of layers of exterior painter’s tape should hold up well.

Protect Floors:

Protect the floor that leads from the work area to the outdoors and others like the one to the bathroom or to the room where the electrical panel is located. Make sure to lay a plastic floor protector there too. Rolling out plastic floor protectors is easy. It doesn’t offer heavy-duty protection but is good enough for the occasional trip. Self-adhesive carpet protection films like this are inexpensive. Similar construction floor protection is available for hardwood floors.

Avoid Filth:

Avoid tracking filth all over the house with protective shoe covers for all.

Stop Airflow:

Dust goes everywhere the air flows, so the key to stopping dust is stopping the airflow. Make your dust barrier as airtight as possible. Completely seal the top and sides with tape to create a dust barrier for effective dust and debris containment. Taping to walls is usually easier than taping to woodwork. If you can’t seal the bottom edge with tape, lay a board across it.

Protect Furnace Filters:

Construction dust sucked into return air ducts can plug your furnace filter. Even worse, small particles can pass through the filter and cover every room in the house with a blanket of fine dust, when the blower turns on. Air supply ducts can be a problem too—dust that settles inside will come blasting out when your heating/cooling system starts up causing a dust and debris containment challenge. You can close the damper on a supply register, but it won’t seal out dust as effectively as plastic and tape. Remember to turn off the heating/cooling system, while the ducts are covered. Operating the system with restricted airflow can damage it.

Use Adhesion Tape:

Use a medium-adhesion tape for most jobs. There are also low-adhesion tapes for delicate surfaces like wallpaper, and high-adhesion tapes for hard-to-mask surfaces like brick. Remove the tape as soon as possible. The adhesive bond strengthens over time. Depending on the type of adhesive, masking tapes are meant to stay in place from one to fourteen days.

Use Fans to Blow Dirt Outside:

A fan blowing out the window helps to keep dust levels down, and it creates a slight vacuum in the work area. That way, any gaps in your dust barrier will let air flow into the work zone, but dust-laden air can’t sneak into surrounding rooms, ensuring dust and debris containment. Just be sure to close large gaps around the fan with cardboard or plastic so that wind gusts don’t blow the dust right back inside. For good airflow, you may have to crack open a door or window on the opposite side of the room.

Use Extra Vacuum Hoses:

The exhaust stream from a shop vacuum can raise more dust than the vacuum sucks up. And small particles like drywall dust can sail right through the vacuum filter to form a fine dust cloud. You can solve both problems with some extra vacuum hoses. Connect a hose to the exhaust port and run it outside, or set the vacuum outside and run the hose inside for effective dust and debris containment.

Protect Hard Flooring:

Carpeted floors are easily protected from snags and stains with a heavy canvas drop cloth. However, safeguarding hard flooring isn’t easy. A hammer knocked off a ladder can dent wood flooring, chip ceramic tile, or even puncture vinyl, and heavy foot traffic will grind grit into the floor. For protection against falling tools and other things, cut sheets of 1/8-inches hardboard to fit the room, and duct-tape them together at the seams. Also, tape around the perimeter with masking tape so that grit can’t get underneath the hardboard and scratch the floor. For quicker protection of hard flooring, use strips of rosin paper taped at the seams and around the perimeter. While rosin paper can’t match the impact and puncture protection of hardboard, two or three layers of it provide a good defense against scratches and spills.

Protect Stairs:

Protecting stairs is necessary to avoid a slip or trip. Rosin paper is a good choice for wood stairs because you can crease it over the edge of the tread, and tape it securely around the entire perimeter. You can also tape separate sheets to the risers. For carpeted stairs, use a long, narrow drop cloth called a runner. Secure the runner by driving small nails right through the carpet and into the treads.

Use Cardboards to Prevent Accidents:

Remodeling means lugging tons of big, clumsy stuff through doorways and tight spaces and around corners. Cardboard is a good defense against accidents. You can wrap door jambs with it, cover up wall corners, or even shield large sections of walls along main pathways. To ensure that the cardboard stays in place, crease it thoroughly to fit corners and use the masking tape generously. Doors can be damaged during remodeling too. The best protection is to remove them from the work zone. If removing a door isn’t practical, clad it with cardboard.

Protect Baseboards:

Whether you’re moving a ladder or stacking 2x4s, you are prone to bang up baseboards. To protect them just cut strips of cardboard about an inch wider than the baseboard, set them against the wall, and tape them on top and bottom. If nearby walls are at risk, don’t hesitate to tape cardboard over them as well. It’ll save the paintwork damage.


These are just some of the commercial and residential scenarios where dust and debris containment is required. However, whatever your dust and debris containment problem, a good interior protection system is a wise investment in the long run.

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