Combustible Dust: A microscopic hazard can cost your business millions

Businesses are always looking for ways to save money, especially millions of dollars. Did you know? Dust can cost your company millions of dollars – more specifically, an explosion from combustible dust. It is a hazard that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. A combustible dust explosion typically destroys buildings beyond repair due to the amount of combustible particulates that accumulates on surfaces.

So what is combustible dust?

According to the NFPA 654, combustible dust is “a combustible particulate solid that presents a fire of deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a range of concentrations, regardless of particle size or shape.” Combustible dust is any organic, metallic or inorganic dust that contains flammable particles, more specifically particles from:

  • Chemicals
  • Coal and other fossil fuels
  • Metals
  • Paper
  • Plastics and rubbers
  • Sugars, grains and food
  • Textiles
  • Wood and sawdust

Where is combustible dust?

Combustible dust can be anywhere in a facility, from the floors to the rafters and anywhere in between. Surfaces in plain view are often cleaned by janitorial staff, while the dust on higher compartments of the building go unnoticed.

What causes combustible dust to explode?

A flame is an obvious source of ignition for any explosion. Combustible dust explosions often result from non-flame sources that include but are not limited to hot surfaces, friction and electrostatic discharge.

This highly explosive dust continues to build on top of ductwork, lights and rafters until an increased temperature causes the dust to ignite. The winter months are also the most common months in which combustible dust explosions occur. The winter’s low humidity levels allow dust to easily disperse and ignite.

How can my business prevent a combustible dust explosion?

Because of the dangers of combustible dust, OSHA and NFPA standards dictate the approved vacuum cleaners for collecting and removing combustible dust. Carolina Filters uses the highest quality collection devices and methods while following NFPA and OSHA requirements. If you aren’t sure if your building is at risk for a combustible dust explosion, contact Carolina Filters. We also offer facility audits to determine the level of combustible dust in the air.

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