Dry Ice Blasting & Cleaning Blog

Dry Ice Cleaning for Combustible Dust

Hard-to-reach spaces in manufacturing facilities pose more than ordinary cleaning challenges.

When combustible dust accumulates, there is an explosion hazard as well.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), combustible dust is described as “fine particles that present an explosion hazard when suspended in the air under certain conditions.”

Combustible explosions over one 25-year period resulted in the death of 119 workers and injury to 718, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB).

“In many of these incidents,” OSHA writes, “workers and managers were unaware of the potential for dust explosions or failed to recognize the serious nature of dust explosion hazards.”

The Unrecognized Risk of Accumulating Combustible Dust

It’s a hazard that may be hard to recognize in part because of the surprisingly long list of materials that pose a risk of combustion as well as a failure to recognize the seemingly innocuous sources that can ignite them.

A recent fire in the dust collection equipment of an Elkhart, Indiana, wood processing business left the company with an estimated $40,000 in damages. Thankfully, nobody was injured and instances like these are preventable with recognition and maintenance.

An OSHA poster lists over 100 food, agricultural, carbonaceous, metal, chemical and plastic dusts that pose a risk of combustion.

Protection Against Combustible Dust Risks

The first defense against the hazards of combustible dust is an awareness of the risks. At Polar Clean, many of our combustible dust cleaning projects originate from an insurance company’s request. When this happens, insurance is already greatly concerned and it must be addressed immediately.

But the right cleaning technique is a close second. Effective housekeeping is a primary source of protection against combustible dust risks created by accumulations of as little as 1/32”.

Combustible dust from wood, metal, food, and chemical processing, combined with the grease and grime that collects in hard-to-reach areas, can leave a workplace at risk of devastating fires and explosions.

Reducing the Risk of Combustible Dust Explosions

Dry ice blasting is a highly effective method for safely and effectively removing combustible dust, particularly for industries where water-based cleaning methods introduce additional risks.

The dry ice process is water-free and uses compressed air powered, high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) explosion-proof (no moving parts, no electricity, fully grounded) vacuums. The process leaves surfaces clean and dry without introducing chemicals, debris or outside sources of combustion.

Commonly cleaned surfaces include silo tanks, lifts, purlins, I-beams, rafters, ductwork, mechanicals, and other overhead areas.

Certified Expertise and Proprietary Solutions

Polar Clean specializes in the use of dry ice blasting for complex cleaning projects, including solutions for combustible dust in settings that require specialized expertise and certifications, including heights, confined spaces, and jobs that require the use of respiratory equipment.

Polar Clean uses proprietary equipment and processes designed to provide clients in a wide array of industries with solutions for cleaning challenges that other methods cannot address.

For combustible dust removal, Polar Clean uses NFPA Certified Explosion Proof Vacuums, and is OSHA certified for Class I, II, III, Division I and II, Groups A, B, C, D, Zone 1 and 21 E, F and G.

To learn more about our solutions for your combustible dust challenges, speak to one of our dry ice cleaning experts today.

Learn more about combustible dust removal