What Is Combustible Dust, and How Can You Control It?

January 13, 2021

OSHA defines combustible dust as a “solid material composed of distinct particles or pieces… which can present a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air.” An array of different industry activities and machinery may lead to the suspension of combustible dust, and this dust can vary significantly in size and still maintain a combustible state which presents a danger to workers without the right collection measures and regular upkeep.

To combat the hazard of explosive dust and comply with safety regulations, manufacturers across numerous industries keep regular housekeeping practices and use dust mitigation equipment like industrial vacuum systems and collectors capable of trapping the combustible dust. 

What Industries House Machinery that Produces Combustible Dust?

Combustible dust can come from many raw materials you might not expect. Even dust from fruit and vegetable processing can be combustible under the right circumstances. That said, the list of industries that produce combustible dust through manufacturing is quite extensive. This list includes but is not limited to:

  • Agriculture
  • Chemicals
  • Pharmaceutical production
  • Plastics
  • Wood, forest, and paper
  • Rubber and tire manufacturing
  • Tobacco
  • Recycling
  • Coal
  • Additive manufacturing or 3D printing
  • Metal processing such as aluminum, magnesium, zinc, and more

Combustible dust can easily collect in common and uncommon areas. In 2003, for example, there was a plant explosion at West Pharmaceutical Services in North Carolina. Investigations following the explosion found that the disaster was likely the result of combusted dust which had accumulated in a thick coat against the ceiling.

OSHA Recommendations for Hazardous Dust Control and Explosion Prevention

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends approaching combustible dust collection with intensive care and quality systems. According to OSHA, specific measures industries should take in combating combustible dust hazards include:

  • Installing working surfaces that minimize dust accumulation 
  • Taking measures to control static electricity
  • Minimizing mechanical friction and sparks
  • Adhering to safe electrical equipment use and wiring
  • Keeping heated systems and surfaces away from areas where dust accumulates
  • Regularly inspecting open and hidden areas for dust residue
  • Establishing combustible dust testing, inspection, and control programs  
  • Preventing dust from escaping with proper equipment or ventilation systems
  • Industrial vacuums and dust collectors approved for hazardous dust collection must be your primary dust collection source prior to using other cleaning methods

The Right Vacuum and Dust Collector Will Make All the Difference

There are several types of industrial vacuums you can use to collect and contain hazardous dust. Which vacuum or dust collector you go with will depend on several factors. To help you get a better idea of how to best approach the dust collection system, we’ve featured a few different Delfin products:

ZEFIRO EV AP 560 

This industrial dust collector is meant to collect suspended dust particles. It’s an ideal collector for regular uses of aluminum or PVC miter saws, and it can recover high volumes of chips and waste. Note, however, that while this is great for collecting combustible dust suspended in the air, it does not have the capability to pick up dust from surfaces.

MISTRAL 202 BL D2

Great for small, general cleaning purposes, the Mistral 202 BL D2 is a lightweight vacuum designed for movement speed and performance. If you’re working with small-to-medium dust that has combustible properties, the Mistral 202 BL D2 is an ideal choice. 

DG 86 AF D2

For dust removal needs on a larger scale with capabilities similar to both the Mistral 202 BLD2 and the Zefiro EV Ap 560, the DG 86 AF D2 is a high pressure, high airflow vacuum that can be used for the toughest jobs as well as for general purpose. 

Connect with Us to Learn More About Combustible Dust Solutions

Looking for a more efficient means of collecting hazardous dust? Delfin has been around for over 25 years. We offer a wide range of industrial vacuums, dust collectors, and accessories all built to help protect your workers and prevent your business from falling out of safety compliance.

Are you a contractor looking for a portable industrial vacuum? Our single-phase vacuums are compact, portable, and built for intermittent use. Whatever your situation, we have the resources necessary to meet the needs of numerous industry types.

Contact us now to learn more about how we can help your company stay safe and compliant.

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