Feb. 27, 2008 The explosion at a sugar refinery in Georgia earlier this month that killed nine workers underscores the need for tougher industrial safety standards regarding production of combustible dust, according to an article* scheduled for the Feb. 25 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.
In the article, C&EN Senior Editor Jeff Johnson points out that hundreds of such dust explosions have occurred over the last 30 years. These explosions can occur without warning and can be triggered by a single spark. Most people do not realize that common substances such as sugar can become highly explosive after being processed into fine dust, whose tiny size requires less energy to ignite, the article notes. The risk grows as huge quantities of these tiny particles accumulate on floors, beams, ceilings and other areas.
Over the years, tighter federal regulations have already prevented combustible dust accidents at grain facilities. However, in light of the recent tragedy, experts feel that tougher, more uniform combustible dust standards and regulations should be expanded to cover all industries that produce combustible dust to prevent these disasters from occurring in the future, the article suggests.
*"Sugar Plant Blast Rekindles Dust Debate" [http://pubs.acs.org/cen/government/86/8608gov1.html]
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