Dusting in production: why the choice of additives and ingredients can play a substantial role in your EHS thinking

Kristin Weel Sundby | January 22, 2019

Is powder handling a problem in your production facilities? If yes, you have probably tried to reduce the dusting and other environment, health and safety (EHS) risks related to powders as much as possible. Have you considered to change the additives and ingredients that will reduce or give no dust, whilst keeping the desired performance? In production, the handling of powders can often lead to EHS issues. But are there any alternatives? Yes, indeed.

Powders and their handling: focus on EHS

One of the issues with handling powders is dust. This is the presence of the powder as airborne particles (dust). Since it is not healthy for the operators to breathe in dust, measures must be adapted to reduce this. Examples of hazardous dusts present in the workplace include1:

  • mineral dusts from the extraction and processing of minerals (these often contain silica, one particularly dangerous mineral);
  • metallic dusts, such as lead and cadmium and their compounds;
  • other chemical dusts, such as bulk chemicals and pesticides;
  • vegetable dusts, such as wood, flour, cotton and tea, and pollens;
  • moulds and spore

Another well-known risk to consider when handling powders is dust explosion. There are several examples being referred to regarding dust explosion and its consequences.

Tuning innovation projects: how to grasp innovation opportunities to remove problems

It is very important to know both the chemical and physical properties of additives and ingredients you are using in your process as well as knowing how and when to use them. By running improvement projects, one might be able to take the opportunity to think and consider EHS, cost and performance and also consider reducing the CO2 footprint of the process, an increasingly important parameter. Depending on the level of expertise available, industries tend to choose well known additives and technologies. We preferably choose those that we have experience with. But, what if there are better innovative alternatives out there? This is especially interesting in relation to understanding innovation investments, like the ones discussed in this blog post.

If you have challenges with dusting and powder handling in your process, why not look for alternatives? Cellulose fibrils could be one of the alternatives. This new innovative product comes in paste or liquid form, and there are well established technologies for pumping and dosing this material. Changing the raw materials, let’s say from powder to paste or liquid, might require some extra work as well as adjustments in the early phase. In the long run however, the outcome could be economically, EHS, technically and environmentally favorable. So again, I will refer to Andrew Wright:

When reviewing investments in innovation, consider effectiveness first, ahead of efficiency. Investment in cheap options is always attractive, but if it has a lower chance of success, can easily end up being wasted money. As the saying goes “Buy cheap, buy twice".

Get started today. Explore the opportunities cellulose fibrils may serve you:

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1 Hazard prevention and control in the work environment: Airborne dust (WHO, 1999)

Written by:

Kristin Weel Sundby

Kristin Weel Sundby has more than twenty years of experience from industrial R&D, and the last ten years from Borregaard. As the previous section manager for Exilva R&D she worked closely with both the market and the production, in order to develop the best products and solutions for our customers together with the R&D team. Kristin has a M.Sc. in chemistry and is now part of Borregaard's Biopolymers team.