Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Your Factory Dust: Is it Actually Dangerous?

Can dust really be that dangerous?

If dust isn't on your list of dangerous things in the workplace, it should be. Dust explosions can wreak havoc on your factory, killing and injuring workers, and destroying machinery. Becoming informed about the properties of your dust is the first step to understanding how it should be collected. Dust testing has always been important, but it is becoming more commonplace through the education of potential hazards and improvements in manufacturing regulations.

Aftermath of a Dust Explosion at Imperial Sugar, Georgia

Testing the Explosiveness of Dust

In accordance with ASTM methods, explosibility testing can give you insight into the challenges you will face in order to provide safe and efficient dust, fume, and mist collection.  Explosibility testing is available through several companies that specialize in explosion protection services. You can contact such a company directly , or you can commission the testing through your dust collection supplier.

Using your dust sample a lab will start with a screening test to determine whether the dust is inert or explosive. If it is combustible, the lab will conduct further testing on dust cloud explosibility parameters to pinpoint the factors that can lead to an explosion, as well as the potential destructive force an explosion could cause. If your dust is found to be even slightly combustible, you will be required to use explosion venting equipment on your dust collector. The specific results of the testing will enable your dust collection supplier to determine whether you can use a standard explosion vent; or whether the vent size, ducting and related components will need to be specially calculated and modified to ensure regulation compliance.

Testing the Physical Properties of Dust

Identifying other characteristics in dust is important as well. Bench testing dust samples can help determine the filter media you will need to efficiently filter the dust, and can also raise a flag for issues such as clumping, which can be affected by changes in moisture. The abrasiveness of the dust comes into play when designing surfaces the dust will come in contact with inside the collector as well as the venting system. Other tests such as terminal velocity testing pinpoint the air velocity required to lift the dust, which is a critical factor in determining collector and filter size.

For dusts that are prone to cause issues, other specialized tests can be leveraged to indicate precautions. 

Compliance with NFPA 68 and other Regulations

Even if you believe your dust to be inert, it still must be tested under NFPA 68. For example, paper dust may be inherently inert - but if a coating or glue is mixed in during processing, it can drastically change the combustibility characteristics of the dust. Explosibility testing is the only way to know for sure, and is therefore the only way to guarantee compliance. You might be surprised by the results when you submit your dust for testing. 

Dust Testing Creates a Safer and Healthier Workplace

Dust collection is important to keep factory air clean for workers and to reduce damage to costly machinery, but dust and fumes must be cleaned carefully and safely to mitigate the potential for a dust explosion. Testing your factory dust is an excellent step towards providing a cleaner and safer workplace for your employees - a step that should not be overlooked.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Install a Dust Collector - Make Money!

Holding a Grudge

For many businesses and organizations, the purchase and installation of an industrial dust collector can be termed a "grudge" purchase.  The fact is, most facilities only purchase a dust collection system because they feel they must, either to keep their employees safe and comfortable, or to comply with government regulations.

Those are admirable goals, and such organizations are to be commended for complying with applicable laws and for being concerned with the welfare of their employees.  But what if it was possible to meet those goals, and at the same time, make more money?  Well, good news.  It is possible!  Consider just one way:

Production of More Product

The EPA or similar governmental organizations may limit the amount of emissions that a facility or process can expel to the outside environment.  If emissions are too high, production may have to be curtailed in order to comply with these government regulations.  This is a possibility when collecting dust and fumes in a mining application.  But, by using a well-engineered dust collection system, overall emissions are reduced and can allow for more production of your product, resulting in greater overall profit.

Mining processes can be good candidates for greater production scheduling due to reduced emissions.

That's just one way that money can be made with a dust collection system, but there are others, such as product recovery.  So when considering a dust or fume collection system, do your research, comply with government regulations, keep everyone safe and comfortable, and make some money.  It's a win-win-win!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Using Surrogate Testing to Determine Selection and Performance of Contained Dust Collection Systems

The proper selection and operation of contained dust collection equipment is critical to pharmaceutical plants for a host of reasons, from environmental requirements and employee health and safety to production cleanliness and efficiency. The use of surrogate testing is a valuable tool in ensuring that contained dust collectors are meeting the requirments for containment relating to the hazards associated with the materials being processed and any applicable good manufacturing practice.
 What is surrogate testing and why is it necessary? Historically, no performance data existed on contained dust collection systems until they were already installed. Surrogate testing offers a way to provide meaningful performance information prior to installation, to help pharmaceutical entities determine if the equipment will meet required guidelines and standards for a specific project. Surrogate testing involves the use of a substitute or surrogate compound to simulate an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) for verifying the effectiveness of dust containment options for handling hazardous materials. Test conditions are designed to mimic workplace operations as closely as possible without incurring the expense or health concerns of handling the actual API. This case study describes how a pharmaceutical manufacturer, who shall be referred to as the "customer," dust collection equipment supplier, and a certified independent laboratory together employed surrogate testing to validate performance of a planned dust collection system that would serve a new manufacturing area.

Read this full informative article here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How To Save Money, Time and Energy on Dust Collection

Choosing the right cartridge filters can have a big impact on cost and performance. Naturally, when shopping we want to purchase the best deal. However, to determine if something like a filter is the correct filter for your operation, it is best to determine "Total Cost of Ownership" or TCO. This can help you figure out what it really costs to own your dust collector filters.

How much does a filter really cost?
If we assume you have identified the dust characteristics through testing, determined the required filtration efficiency and narrowed the choice to two products with the same rated efficiency, the TCO can now be applied to help you decide which filter to select. The evaluation process encompasses three categories:

1. Energy: The amount of energy required to operate the dust collector from day to day, including electrical costs, compressed air usage and CO2 emissions.
2. Consumables: The items that are replaced periodically throughout the life of the equipment.
3. Maintenance and Disposal: The time it takes to service the equipment and the costs of disposing the consumables.

TCO provides a useful tool for comparing the real costs of operating an existing dust collector with different filters. TCO is also used as a tool for evaluating the impact of energy-saving electrical components in the design of new and refurbished dust collection systems.

To see the numbers in action, check out our white paper on "Total Cost of Ownership" here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dust Collector Compliance with Combustible Dust Standards - Part 6 of 6


Not everyone agrees on the best way to tackle combustible dust issues. Some concur with the CSB position that OSHA needs to accelerate efforts to produce and enforce its own standard, citing a long-standing precedent with the grain industry.

Explosions in grain bins used to be one of the biggest safety problems in the U.S. In 1987, following a series of deadly explosions, OSHA promulgated a Grain Handling Facilities Standard that remains in effect today. This standard has yielded major improvements in combustible dust safety in these facilities. According to OSHA, “The lessons learned in the grain industry can be applied to other industries producing, generating, or using combustible dust.” Others argue that more stringent and perhaps consolidated dust standards from the NPFA, diligently enforced by OSHA and local authorities, would be preferable to a separate OSHA standard.

What everyone does seem to acknowledge is that more drastic action is necessary to prevent combustible dust tragedies from continuing to occur. Until such action is mandated, a certain degree of self-regulation is called for. Managers of industrial facilities can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. By following the guidelines in this article, and securing the help of engineering consultants and equipment suppliers with a proven track record in combustible dust applications and performance-based solutions, you can minimize risk factors and maximize combustible dust safety in your facility.

# # #

This series of blog posts come from the free white paper w to Make Sure Your Dust Collection System Complies with Combustible Dust Standards by Tony Supine and Mike Walters of Camfil APC. (Download full white paper as PDF here.) Tony Supine has held numerous positions with Camfil APC including research and development manager, technical director and currently plant manager. Mike Walters, a registered Professional Engineer with 30 years’ experience in air pollution control and dust collection systems, is a senior engineer with the company. Camfil APC is a leading manufacturer of dust collection equipment and part of Camfil, the largest air filter manufacturer in the world. The authors can be reached at (800) 479-6801 or (870)933-8048; email; website


National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169;
• NFPA 61: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Dust Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities (2013)
• NFPA 68: Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting (2013)
• NFPA 69: Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems (2008)
• NFPA 484: Standard for Combustible Metals (2012)
• NFPA 654: Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing and handling of Combustible Particulate Solids (2013)
• NFPA 664 – Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities (2012)

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), 200 Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20210;

• OSHA Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program (Reissued) – Directive Number: CPL 03-00-008; effective date March 11, 2008.
• OSHA Combustible Dust Standards, July 2008. U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), 2175 K. Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20037;

The Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave, SE, Washington, DC 20540; H.R. 691: Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosions and Fires Act of 2013.

OSHA Law Update, a Hazard Communication, Epstein Becker Green, 1227 25th Street, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037; : “2011 Rundown of OSHA’s Combustible Dust National Emphasis Program and Rulemaking”, Amanda R. Strainis-Walker and Eric J. Conn; December 29, 2011.

ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, PO Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA, 19428;; “ASTM E 1226-10,
Standard Test Method for Explosibility of Dust Clouds”, 2010.

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