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Dust Hazards Overview


Imperial Sugar
Port Wentworth, Georgia

CTA Acoustics
Corbin, Kentucky

West Pharmaceuticals
Kinston, NC

What is Required?
Ignition Source

Fuel (Combustible Dusts)




Common Terms & Definitions

Combustible Dust A combustible particulate solid that presents a fire or

deflagration hazard when suspended in air or some other oxidizing medium over a
range of concentrations, regardless of particles size or shape.

Deflagration Propagation of a combustion zone at a velocity that is less than the

speed of sound in the unreacted medium.

Detonation Flame spread above the speed of sound

Explosion Rapid release of high pressure into an environment

Hybrid Mixture A mixture of flammable gas (or evaporated liquid) with a

combustible dust

Common Terms & Definitions

MEC Minimum Explosible Concentration The Minimum concentration of a

combustible dust suspended in air, measured in mass per unit volume, that will
support deflagration.

MIE Minimum Ignition Energy The minimum amount of energy released as a

point in a combustible mixture that causes flame propagation away from the point,
under specified test conditions (ASTME 2019)

Pmax The maximum pressure developed in a contained deflagration of an

optimum mixture.

Kst The deflagration index of a dust cloud. Kst = (dp/dt)max(V 0.333) bar-m/sec
(per ASTME 1226 testing). Higher Kst values indicate a higher rate of combustion.

LOC Limiting Oxidant Concentration The concentration of oxidant below which

deflagration cannot occur. Typically the oxidant is oxygen.

Potential Ignition Sources

Chemical Action
Hot Work
Burner Flame
Static Electricity
Hot Surfaces
Hot Embers

Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE)

Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE)

Acrylidone LM

MIE Milli-Joules
400-700 mJ
1.7 mJ

Polylclar 10

4 mJ

PVP K-90

14 mJ

PVP K-30

25 mJ

Gantrez AN-169

1.2 mJ

Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE)

Use only Equipment Rated properly for Division II Areas

Ensure Proper Grounding & Bonding by an Annual PM of the Entire System.
Verify Proper Grounding & Bonding following any Opening of Process Equipment for
Maintenance and/or Cleaning
Use only Conductive Materials Hoses with Proper Straps/Grounding Wires, Baghouse
Bags & Cages, and Flex Boots with Conductive Wiring (or Jumpers)
Use only Appropriate Cleaning Equipment (Vacuums)


Particle Size & Dispersion

When an Explosible Material is reduced in size it becomes more dangerous. The smaller the
particle size, the more Surface Area Available for ignition.
The smaller the particles the greater the chance for an explosion to occur.

Minimum Explosible Concentration


Measured most often in Grams per Cubic Centimeter (cc)

Also related to the LEL or Lower Explosive Limit and the LFL or Lower
Flammable Limit.

This is the value of weight of material per Unit Area that will, in a Cloud
form/propogate a Deflagration/Explosion.

This value is Highly Important and key to Determining the Actual RISK in an
Explosive Environment.

It is often the value used to Determine if Additional Protection is Required.

Minimum Explosible Concentration


MEC (Grams per Cubic Meter)

55-65 g/m3

Acrylidone LM

60 g/m3

Polyclar 10

40 g/m3

PVP K-90

65 g/m3

PVP K-30

65 g/m3

Gantrez AN-169

60 g/m3


Kst is the Deflagration Index for Dusts

Kst Test results provide an indication of the Severity of a Dust Explosion
Kst is essentially the Maximum Rate of Pressure Rise generated when dust is tested in a
confined enclosure
Kst provides the best Single Number estimate of the anticipated behavior of a Dust
Kst values are the basis for Relief Panel Design

ST 0
ST 1
ST 2
ST 3


No Explosion

>0 to 200 Weak

>200 to

Very Strong



Kst Value




Acrylidone LM



Polyclar 10









Gantrez AN-169



Primary vs. Secondary

Primary Explosions

Primary Explosion A primary explosion can develop pressures that will approach 10 times the initial
pressure of the system. For a primary explosion to occur a dust/powder cloud with the combustible
materials concentration above the MEC must exist, the oxygen concentration must be above the LOC, an
ignition source of sufficient energy must be present and there needs to be an element of confinement.
Prevention is normally attained through preventing the formation of the dust clouds with a dust
concentration above the MEC, by keeping the oxygen concentration below the LOC, by controlling all
ignition sources (electrical, electrostatic, thermal, mechanical) and by defining envelopes for safe
operating conditions as it pertains to self heating. Mitigations normally evaluated include containment,
suppression, and explosion venting.

Primary Explosion Safegaurds

Operate the Equipment below the Minimum Explosible Concentration (MEC) Powder
Conveyance, Dust Collectors, Drying Chambers, Blenders, etc.
Control Ignition Sources Use only Rated Equipment suitable for Combustible Dust
Control Oxygen Level below the LOC (Limiting Oxyen Concentration) Processes operated
under Inert Atmospheres.
Explosion Venting to Safe Location
Suppression Systems & Containment

Primary Explosion Safegaurds

Limiting Oxidant Concentration (LOC)


LOC Oxygen Concentration

Acrylidone LM


Polylclar 10


PVP K-30


Gantrez AN-169


Propogating Explosions

Propagating Explosion A propagating explosion normally starts as a primary explosion in a piece of

equipment or pipeline that propagates to all of the interconnected equipment. Higher pressures can be
developed because the initial pressure is above atmospheric pressure. Prevention is normally attained
through preventing primary explosions and by installing isolation systems in the interconnecting ducts,
piping, conveyors, etc. Mitigation is normally addressed by both explosion isolation & explosion venting,
or suppression of the interconnected equipment.

Propogating Explosion Safegaurds

Prevent the Primary Explosion

Equipment Venting , Suppression & Segregation to prevent Interconnected Equipment from
Fueling the Event.

Secondary Explosions

Secondary Explosion Secondary explosions are the most severe and destructive of the dust/powder
explosion types. They occur when the powder/dust laying on the floor, beams, building supports, and
equipment are all jarred loose and thrown into one large dust cloud and ignited from the fireball from the
Primary and/or Propagating Explosion. Normally it is the primary explosion occurring in a facility where
housekeeping is below standards that causes the secondary dust cloud to form and has the energy
required to ignite it. Prevention is normally attained by preventing the primary explosion and by
preventing the buildup or accumulation of combustible material. There is very little that could be done to
mitigate the Secondary Dust Explosion. It is imperative that a strict housekeeping policy be followed to
ensure that accumulations and buildups are kept to a minimum.


Appendix A of NFPA 654 points out that a dust layer 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) thick on the floor
would, when uniformly suspended create a dust hazard concentration of .35 oz/ft3 (350
g/m3) in a room 10ft high.
As a reference this is about the thickness of the lead on a mechanical pencil, or half the
thickness of a dime.
Annex D of NFPA 654 indicates that immediate cleaning is warranted whenever a dust layer
or 1/32 (.8 mm) thickness accumulates over a surface area of at least 5% of the floor of the
facility in any given room. The 5% factor should not be used if the floor area exceeds 20,000
ft2, in which case a 100 ft2 layer of dust is the upper limit.
Accumulations on overhead beams, joists, ducts, tops of equipment, and other surfaces
should be included when determining the dust coverage area. Even vertical surfaces should
be included when determining the dust coverage area.

An alternative method for considering the Acceptable thickness of dust accumulations from NFPA
654 ( for powders with bulk densities less than 75 lb/ft3 is as follows:

Equivalent Thickness = (0.8mm)(1.2 g/cc)/Bulk Density of Powder


Equivalent Thickness

Polyclar (.30 g/cc)

3.2 mm

PVP K-90 (.48 g/cc)

2 mm

PVP-I (.63 g/cc)

1.5 mm

PVP K-30 (.60 g/cc)

1.6 mm

Gantrez AN-169 (.45 g/cc)

2.1 mm

Each Department (Area) within the plant shall develop a documented Housekeeping Procedure which
must include the following elements (Example Housekeeping Checklists included in Appendix A):

Guidelines as to when Equipment should be shut down for repairs concerning powder/dust

Powder - Dust/Leaks from Gaskets, Flexible Boots, Removable Covers, etc.

Packaging System malfunctions leading to excess dust in drumming rooms.
Excess build-up from Nuisance leaks that have exceeded the 1/32 requirement when considering beams,
joists, and other supports.

A weekly cleaning schedule (at minimum) unless determined & justified as to an adjusted

Weekly Cleaning schedule must include assignments as to which job function (positions) are responsible for
which areas within the process.
Weekly cleaning schedule must include Operator Sign-off.
Weekly cleaning documentation shall be maintained by the Area for a period of 6 months.
Acceptable methods of Cleaning must be identified in the cleaning procedure as well as any additional
precautions that must be taken.

Vacuuming (Fixed Pipe House-Vacuum Systems & properly rated portable cleaners are acceptable)
Dry Sweeping & Bagging of Material
Washing the affected Area.

The use of Steam or Compressed Air to blow down Equipment is prohibited.


A Quarterly Cleaning Documentation (unless determined & justified to an adjusted

frequency) to include verification of the weekly cleaning and the following additional
Inspection of Any Dust Control Devices (House-Vac Systems, Dust Collection Systems,
Ventilation Systems, etc.)
Inspection of All Drop Ceiling located in the Packaging & Processing Areas to ensure no
build-up of powder under the ceiling tiles.
Quarterly inspections Documentation should be maintained for a period of at least 1
Annual Cleaning Documentation
An Annual cleaning checklists should be developed to ensure that hard to clean areas
are cleaned during Annual Shutdowns, in an attempt to prevent downtime during the
remainder of the year.
Annual cleanings should include Preventative Maintenance on Dust Collection Systems.

It is acceptable to limit the extent of dust migration & size of the room that must be cleaned.
NFPA 654 permits the use of physical barriers to limit dust migration in order to minimize the
extent of the housekeeping zone.

Additional Information

ISP Corporate SHP-511 -- Major Hazard Analysis Guidelines for Systems Processing
Combustible Dusts & Powders


Additional Information

PEDS Product Explosibility Data Sheets

Maitained by ISP Corporate for Specific Products

Additional Information

CSB Video on Dust Hazards

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