Dust is formed in a number of the steps in the industrial processes, and some of the dust particles are ultrafine. The industry intends, through the DeMaskUs project, to investigate the dust particles and ensure that there are no unknown health challenges associated with dust from the metallurgical processes. An interdisciplinary team of experts consisting of occupational physicians and hygienist, toxicologists, metallurgical scientists and industrial engineers work together to examine ultrafine dust. In addition, the smallest particles in airborne dust and how they potentially can affect certain human cells.
SINTEF and NTNU has, in the DeMaskUs project, performed studies based on fundamental physics, chemistry and thermodynamics to understand more about the metallurgical processes. Based on this knowledge, the industry can adapt their processes to minimize the amount of dust. The project team also carries out measurements in the industrial plants and collect samples which will be further examined in the laboratories. The dust can also be generated in laboratory experiments in small, medium and pilot scale.
The University hospital of North Norway and St. Olavs Hospital investigates how well the traditional respiratory face masks protect the employees against dust, and examines the psychological aspects related to the wearing of masks. Some of the dust samples characterized by SINTEF and NTNU is also examined by the National Institute of Occupational Health. They will use laboratory experiments to study how dust affects certain cells (in vitro).
DeMaskUs is the first competence project for the private sector (KPN) which is financed by the Research Council program Nano 2021. The industrial companies Washington Mills, Saint Gobain, Elkem, Eramet Norway, Fesil Rana Metall, Glencore Manganese, Wacker and Finnfjord will contribute to finance the project.
Project leader for the DeMaskUs project is Ida T. Kero, SINTEF Industry.