Combustible dust is one of the most serious risks caused by dust in manufacturing environments. Prevent the danger of dust and gas explosions by creating a safer environment using ATEX approved solutions, such as dust collectors, extraction arms, industrial vacuum cleaners and explosion isolation flap valves.
One of the most serious risks caused by dust in manufacturing environments is that of combustible dust. When this dust comes in contact with the right concentration of oxygen, an explosion can occur. A source for ignition is all it takes to trigger an explosion.
The explosion might not be contained to the immediate vicinity. Dust explosions spread from the small explosion around an ignition source to the rest of the facility. In these cases, the initial explosion stirs up the dust in the rest of the facility, and then that dust ignites. The secondary explosion can be significant, injuring or killing workers and destroying property.
What is combustible dust?
Combustible dust, also known as explosive dust, is a by-product created from manufacturing processes that involve combustible raw materials. Combustible dust is any fine material that has the ability to catch fire and explode when mixed with air. Many materials can become combustible dust under specific conditions. Examples include:
- Wood, textiles, plastics
- Agricultural products such as flour, sugar, grain, tobacco and spices
- Light metals such as aluminum, magnesium and titanium
- Coal, carbon
- Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber
While practically invisible to the human eye, combustible dust particles are a deadly hazard in many workplaces and industries. Certain conditions can cause the dust to become explosive, potentially killing or injuring workers, and destroying machinery or even entire facilities. Explosive or potentially explosive atmospheres can also occur where flammable gases or fumes derived from chemicals or petroleum products are present.
Identify explosive atmospheres
Dust can pile up almost anywhere in a workplace. Inside, on and around of machines and produced items. Rafters, roofs, suspended ceilings and ducts are also common areas, partly because they are located remotely and hard to reach. According to the ATEX directive, employers must investigate where in a workplace dust is created and whether it is combustible or not.
ATEX and NFPA regulations applying to combustible dust environments
The European Community has passed two directives on explosive atmospheres; ATEX directives 2014/34/EU “Equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX) and 99/92/EC “ATEX workplace directive”. The application of these two directives has led to increased protection against explosions, making various technical and organizational actions mandatory. Similarly in North America, NFPA standards NFPA 61 "Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Foodprocessing Facilities, NFPA 69 “Explosion Prevention Systems”, NFPA 652 “Fundamentals of Combustible Dust“, NFPA 654 "Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids" and NFPA 664 “Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities” are applicable.
Measures for preventing combustible dust explosion accidents
Listed below are some concrete ways of reducing the buildup and spread of combustible dust, and the risk of it leading to a fatal dust explosion.
- Install a safe dust collector, preferably one connected to an efficient source capture extraction system. Extracting the dust in immediate proximity to where it is produced, source capture is an effective method of preventing dust from spreading. The dust collector may also be equipped with explosion isolation flap valves that further reduce the risk of a dust explosion propagating and spreading throughout the factory or workshop. An IIoT-connected, “smart” dust collector can even provide operators with useful data on its status, capacity, and maintenance needs.
- Barriers in the form of canopies, walls, or other types of physical obstacles can also prevent dust and dust explosions from spreading.
- Identify potential ignition sources that may ignite combustible dust, and remove or reduce them in order to lower the risk of a dust explosion.
- Simply put, the finer the dust particles, the higher the risk of an explosion. If processes can be altered to make the particles bigger and coarser, that can help prevent combustible dust explosions.
- Awareness and proper housekeeping routines. One of the greatest hazards of combustible dust is ignoring the risks it poses. Make sure you and your colleagues are fully aware of the potential safety risks of the dust produced in your workplace, and that industrial housekeeping routines are followed and performed as intended.
Nederman's combustible dust solutions
Nederman offers safe and reliable solutions for handling combustible dust and gases. Based on the customer’s risk evaluation, we recommend suitable equipment for each application. The products are designed to comply with the ATEX and NFPA directives.
SAFETY Protect people, production and facility
EXPERTISE Combustible dust experts with long experience and Nederman members on both
ATEX and NFPA committees
TRUST Leading manufacturer of both dust collector and explosion safety devices with
wide range of explosion isolation flap valves for all applications
COMPLIANCE ATEX certified dust collectors, extraction arms, industrial vacuum cleaners and
Explosion Isolation Flap
Combustible dust experts
Nederman is a leading manufacturer of dust collectors with a proven history of controlling dust and mitigating the risks of fires and explosions. We can help you create a safe and sustainable working environment by recommending and offering suitable equipment and routies. The solutions we offer are based both on your risk evaluation and compliance with the ATEX and NFPA directives. Contact our combustible dust experts to find out more!