Following concerns raised by citizens concerning dust in local dog parks, the City of Westmount hired an independent laboratory, SOLROC, to carry out a study. Complaints included discomfort experienced by some from dust raised by the activity of dogs and wind. Referencing workplace studies, it is known that fine airborne dust can have an impact on lung health, and that crystalline silica dust is considered a potentially ‘risky’ material. Taking this into consideration, the City of Westmount decided to mandate SOLROC. As far as we know, it is the first time a dog park has been the object of this type of study.
SOLROC concluded that the sand mix used in the park conforms to the product profile as stated on the product data sheet. Smooth river sand is not only more comfortable to dogs’ paws, it provides better surface drainage and facilitates waste removal. Although wind and canine activity will cause sporadic dust clouds, the irregularity of those conditions is very different from a constant exposure. Furthermore, no significant trace of heavy metals or other toxic substances was found in the samples collected for analysis. The risk of silicosis, both to humans and to dogs, is therefore considered to be low due to the limited exposure to silica dust. It should be noted, however, that no health data on silicosis in dogs was found.
SOLROC recommends implementing prevention measures to minimize silica dust from forming — partially, if not entirely — and reaching our lungs. Dust Stop Powder, a product known to be effective and biologically proven to eliminate dust, has already been identified as a possible preventive measure. A trial of this product will be carried out in the King George Park dog run during the coming weeks.