Air contaminants such as dust and grindings have always been a concern in the dental laboratory. High levels of these particles—especially ones that are less than one micron in diameter—may aggravate existing conditions such as asthma and allergies; cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat; and contribute to chronic respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
To control air quality, laboratory owners rely on equipment such as dust collectors, air cleaners, centralized vacuum systems and filters and hoods that capture monomer fumes and odors. Proper upkeep of air conditioning and heating units, in addition to maintaining a smoke-free environment, is also important.
Many local ordinances now require buildings to have mechanical ventilation that brings in a certain percentage of fresh air, instead of just recycling air. This requirement came about after it was found that many of the "energy-efficient" buildings designed during the 1970s' energy shortage had inadequate ventilation and contributed to Legionnaire's Disease and "sick building syndrome." Symptoms of sick building syndrome include sore and runny eyes, nasal blockage, sneezing, dry throat, headaches, lethargy and lack of concentration.