Types of Combustible Dust: Keeping Your Workplace Safe

Combustible dust is a common workplace hazard that can lead to explosions if not properly managed. But what exactly qualifies as combustible dust? Surprisingly, a wide range of everyday materials can become dangerously flammable in their dust form. This blog post will explore the different types of combustible dust and why dust extraction is crucial for maintaining a safe work environment.

What is Combustible Dust?

Combustible dust is any finely divided solid particle that can suspend in air and ignite when exposed to a spark or heat source. These particles are typically less than 500 microns in diameter (about the width of a human hair) which allows them to easily disperse and create a potentially explosive cloud.

Common Types of Combustible Dust

There are two main categories of combustible dust: organic and inorganic.

Organic Dusts

These are derived from living materials and include:

  • Agricultural products: Grain, flour, sugar, powdered milk, spices, etc.
  • Wood products: Sawdust, sander dust, wood flour
  • Paper products: Dust generated during paper processing, shredding, etc.
  • Textiles: Cotton, wool, nylon, and other fabric fibers
  • Rubber and plastics: Dust from grinding or processing these materials
  • Food additives: Sugar dust, cocoa powder

Inorganic Dusts:

These are derived from mineral or non-living materials and include:

  • Metals: Aluminum, magnesium, titanium (especially dangerous), steel.
  • Coal and carbon dust
  • Chemicals: Sulfur, pharmaceuticals, some pesticides
  • Plastics
  • Waste

Why is Dust Extraction Important?

By effectively removing combustible dust from your workplace, you significantly reduce the risk of explosions. Dust extraction systems capture dust particles at the source before they have a chance to enter the air and accumulate on surfaces. This helps to prevent the formation of a dangerous dust cloud and minimizes the potential for an ignition source to come into contact with dust.

UK Dust Extraction Regulations

As a company owner or manager at a company you are required by law to comply with various regulations. When talking about explosive materials in the UK it is DSEAR and ATEX that needs to be complied with at all times. Air Plants Dust Extraction Ltd engineers will ensure that the dust extraction equipment supplied is fully compliant.

Additional Safety Measures

While dust extraction is a key component of combustible dust safety, it’s important to implement a comprehensive approach. Here are some additional safety measures to consider:

  • Ignition source control: Eliminate open flames, sparks, and other potential ignition sources in areas where combustible dust is present.
  • Proper housekeeping: Regularly clean up dust accumulations to prevent them from reaching dangerous levels.
  • Employee training: Train employees on the dangers of combustible dust and proper handling procedures.


Combustible dust is a serious threat in many workplaces. By understanding the different types of combustible dust and implementing effective dust extraction and safety measures, you can create a safer and healthier work environment for your employees.

For more information on dust extraction systems and how they can help control combustible dust hazards, contact Air Plants today!