Airborne dust creates a safety hazard in any industry. Whether the business is processing or packing vegetables, pellets, or powders of any kind; if the fugitive dust is respirable (breathable) the consequences of a dusty work-place can be very serious. The HSE have strict workplace exposure limits for Respirable Crystalline Silica (RCS) of 0.1mg/m3, and will take action against companies that do not take dust exposure seriously. In this article, Fiona Miles explains why dust is a serious hazard, and how the simple addition of a fogging system can effectively solve the problem.

The problem with airborne dust

Airborne respirable dust of any kind, but especially RCS (respirable crystalline silica) can cause severe respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), silicosis and can cause lung cancer. COPD interferes with airflow in and out of the lungs, causing breathlessness and a severe cough. As the disease develops, the patient may be unable to walk more than a few yards. In silicosis, fine particles create small, nodules of scar tissue in the lungs, causing breathing difficulties and a chronic cough. Silicosis increases risk of lung cancer and tuberculosis. Silicosis patients are also prone to kidney disease and arthritis. People exposed to silica have increased risk of those diseases even if they do not develop silicosis.

So it is obvious why the HSE take RCS so seriously. Businesses which do not adequately protect staff from exposure to respirable dust risk fines, as well as potentially expensive litigation and in severe cases, a prison sentence.

How does a fogging system suppress dust?

Respirable airborne dust is attracted to the microscopic water droplets and simply drops out of the air. MicronFogTM produces a high concentration of 10 -20 micron fog droplets . This offers optimum performance for attracting PM10 and smaller particles, thereby suppressing the airborne dust.

How is the Fog generated?

Water based systems can be prone to waterborne pathogens such as Legionella or Cryptosporidium. UV disinfection is a great way to protect against these. {Can be removed to meet word count}.

Will fog wet the products?

Some products are moisture sensitive and must not become wet. In a carefully designed fog system, the droplets are small enough that flash evaporation prevents wetting the processing area.

Uses of fog

Fog does many things: It cools, it can humidify, deliver chemicals and disinfectants, and provide special effects.

The most common use of our fogging systems is the suppression of airborne dust. Used outdoors and indoors, on loading areas, conveying areas or in the building generally. It is used in biofuel handling, recycling and waste processing, powder handling, vegetable packing and grading, compost, grain, quarries and minerals processing and energy from waste. The benefits of dust suppression such as reduced exposure to litigation, lower levels of illness and less machine down-time are obvious, but other benefits of a cooler, more pleasant work-place and faster clean-up times can improve morale and productivity too.

Case Study

The Problem: The vegetable packing and grading facility pictured at the top of this article was beset by problems of airborne dust. As potatoes are conveyed around the facility, they drop from one part of the process to another, the movement of the potatoes loosens the soil on the tubers. The soil contains fine particles of crystalline silica. As the soil is dry, the movement of the vegetables causes this dust to become airborne. This is a well-known issue in the root vegetable industry. The HSE regularly inspects facilities such as these to ensure workers within the facility are being adequately protected from airborne dust. This customer needed a solution which would effectively solve the dust problem, thereby protecting staff and bring them well within the tight HSE limits for RCS.

The Solution: A MicronFogTM fogging system was installed to suppress dust in key areas in the process where dust was in the air or becoming airborne. Nozzles were fitted in the roof space to suppress dust generally in the area. In addition, several fogging nozzles were positioned underneath the sorting line to suppress dust falling from the conveyor return belts. Low flow nozzles were fitted above the loading and transfer points on the sorting line.

The engineering manager at this vegetable packing business was delighted with the results of the project. He said “Our new dust suppression system does exactly what it says on the tin”.


Fog is a very powerful tool for industry to comply with the workplace dust limits. It is economical to run and offers significant cost savings when compared to other technologies.

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