Combustible Dust FAQs

Combustible Dust FAQs

Q. What is combustible dust?

A. OSHA defines combustible dust as 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 particle size or shape. Since Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) often lack specific information regarding explosivity, Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums highly recommends you contact a private testing laboratory to have your dust tested.

If you are still unsure if the material you collect at your facility is considered hazardous, we recommend you contact a testing company.

Q. Is our facility at risk for a combustible dust explosion?

A. A list of common combustible dusts can be found by visiting OSHA's Web site. OSHA’s Combustible Dust NEP estimates there are approximately 30,000 U.S. facilities at risk for a combustible dust fire or explosion. John Astad, founder of the Combustible Dust Policy Institute, estimates that number is probably closer to 100,000, since over 50% of combustible dust related fires and explosions in 2008 occurred in national industries (NAICS), not referenced in the NEP.  Nevertheless, implementing a comprehensive maintenance plan that focuses on removing dust from overhead pipes, machinery and enclosed areas can significantly reduce your risk of a dust-induced fire/explosion.

Q. How will an industrial vacuum help me combat combustible dust?

A. Organizations like OSHA and the NFPA have recommended that facilities incorporate properly equipped industrial vacuum cleaners into their maintenance plans in order to decrease the risk for a combustible dust fire/explosion. With the right accessories, industrial vacuums can remove dust from floors, walls, machinery, overhead pipes, and other hard-to-reach areas.  And, unlike mops and brooms which often create dust clouds, industrial vacuums safely collect and retain combustible dust within the collection container.

Q. Our facility collects “X material”, do I need an explosion proof/dust ignition-proof vacuum?

A. We know there is a lot of confusion in the industrial sector regarding hazardous materials, particularly combustible dust. In short, just because your facility handles combustible dust does not mean you need an explosion-proof vacuum…but you might. OSHA’s Combustible Dust NEP calls for electrical vacuums used in dusty areas to be approved for the hazard-classified location, as required under standard 1910.307(b). The standard regulates that facilities follow the Class and Division system as defined by NFPA 70 or the National Electrical Code. 

At Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums, our representatives conduct a thorough facility analysis, complete a project survey, and make an educated, experienced recommendation based on the needs of your specific application. 

Nilfisk's explosion proof and dust ignition-proof vacuums are CSA-certified for use in Class I, Group D, and Class II, Groups E*, F & G, environments.

Q. What makes our electric EXP vacuums truly “explosion proof?”

A. A true “explosion proof” vacuum is certified for use in hazardous environments by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratory (UL). These independent labs thoroughly test every single component of the vacuum to insure that all parts are grounded and built from non-sparking materials – from the outer shell to the switches, motor, filters, and accessories. For a complete listing of NRTLs currently recognized by OSHA, visit

Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums' explosion-proof vacuums are CSA-certified for use in Class I, Group D, and Class II, Groups E*, F & G, environments.

Q. Is my pneumatic vacuum explosion proof?

A. In environments where electricity is unavailable or undesirable, air-operated vacuums for hazardous locations are excellent alternatives, but just because a vacuum is air-operated, doesn’t make it explosion proof. 

Air-operated vacuums for hazardous locations should still be constructed of non-sparking materials and outfitted with ignition-proof parts and accessories that meet the highest level of operational safety. 

Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums' air-operated vacuums for combustible dust meet the requirements for use in Class I, Group D, and Class II, Groups E*, F, and G, environments and are ATEX-approved.

*Special modifications may be necessary to meet Group E requirements. Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums reserves the right to evaluate on a case by case basis.

About is your source for dust and contaminant control information. Nilfisk Industrial Vacuums is a world leader in dust control and has been providing industrial vacuums for over 100 years.

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Nilfisk Inc.
Industrial Vacuum Division

740 Hemlock Road, Suite 100
Morgantown, PA 19543
Phone: 800-NILFISK [(800) 645-3475]
Fax: (610) 286-7350