7 Hazardous Materials You Can Dispose of Using an Industrial Vacuum

January 06, 2021

Hazardous materials exist on surfaces, suspended in the air, and in hard-to-access places throughout construction sites and manufacturing plants. The potential destruction these materials can bring upon a facility or work site is enough that OSHA has strict protocols for the control and disposal of them. Consequently, adequate industrial vacuum or dust collection systems must be used to ensure the collection, containment, and disposal of the materials and dust. In this post, we’ve outlined where you may find these hazards and a few tips from OSHA on how best to protect your facility and workers from harm.  

Crystalline Silica

Found in manufacturing plants across numerous industries, crystalline silica is a mineral in materials like stone, sand, mortar, and concrete. A plant that produces glass or artificial stone, for example, must adhere to OSHA standards for the control and disposal of crystalline silica. When inhaled, respirable crystalline silica puts workers at risk of lung cancer, silicosis, kidney disease, and other potentially fatal conditions and disease. OSHA estimates that over 2 million U.S. workers are exposed to these particles, making it all the more important to comply with regulations.

Silica Control and Disposal

Employers must provide adequate respiratory protection to workers and, as it pertains to housekeeping, workers must use wet sweeping methods as well as industrial vacuums or dust collection systems equipped with HEPA filters.


The construction industry is laden with hazardous materials. Dangerous dust from these materials arises from activities like concrete work, cutting and sanding, demolitions, and others. Among these materials is the mineral that’s plagued families and workers since it first came on the scene in the 19th century – asbestos. You can find asbestos in an array of construction-related products, including but not limited to:

  • Cement pipes
  • Insulation
  • Floor tiles
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Fire-resistant drywall

While asbestos can be found in some products made today, you will typically come across it during renovations and other jobs that involve the destruction or repurposing of old materials.

Asbestos Control and Disposal

OSHA’s methods of compliance prohibit dry sweeping, shoveling, and general housekeeping tactics as a means of controlling and disposing of asbestos. Rather, employers must use ventilation systems that push contaminated air from breathing areas. As is the case with crystalline silica, employers must also use dust collection systems and industrial vacuums equipped with HEPA filters.

Asbestos removal

5 Types of Combustible Dust Found in Processing Plants

In addition to the danger they pose when breathing, many types of dust are also combustible, making them all the more hazardous to your workers and to your operation. Combustible dust can arise from the processing of materials in the food and agriculture industries, pharmaceuticals, metal processing plants, and much more. OSHA has separated combustible dust by type and, like asbestos and silica, requires certain methods of disposal and control to prevent disasters. Dust types with potential for combustion include but are not limited to:

Carbonaceous Dust

  • Coal
  • Cork
  • Cellulose
  • Charcoal, activated
  • Charcoal, wood

Agriculture Dust

  • Gluten
  • Oat flour
  • Beetroot
  • Cocoa bean dust
  • Cornmeal

Plastic Dust

  • Epoxy resin
  • (poly) Ethylene
  • Melamine resin
  • (poly) Methyl acrylate
  • Phenolic resin
Vacuuming of plastic dust industrial application

Metal Dust

  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Bronze
  • Aluminum
  • Iron Carbonyl

Chemical Dust

  • Lactose
  • Dextrin
  • Sulfur
  • Methyl-cellulose
  • Ascorbic acid

The list of potentially combustible dust is far more extensive than what we’ve shown here. Unsure whether your dust is combustible? Use our guide to learn more.

Combustible Dust Control and Disposal

All facilities that house combustible dust must have an emergency action plan and there must be an adequate housekeeping program exercised regularly. Combustible dust may only be disposed of using OSHA approved vacuum and collection systems. Note, also, that industrial vacuums and other electronic machinery must be approved for Class II locations to adhere to ignition control measures.

HEPA-Filtered Dust Collection Systems and Other Hazardous Dust Removal Products

Delfin provides a wide range of industrial vacuums and dust collectors fit for hazardous particle collection at the smallest of microns. In fact, our NRTL certified industrial vacuums with HEPA filters trap hazardous dust at 99.995%. Looking for a solution to a hazardous dust problem but you’re unsure what equipment is right for your facility? Give us a call. We will work with you to ensure you have the collection system and add-ons necessary for the job. 

HEPA filter in Delfin Industrial's certified vacuum solutions
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