Your question reminds me of a hazardous waste audit I performed in the early 1980’s. A chain saw manufacturer was also generating fine aluminum dust. Management did not know how the Al dust was being collected, if it was a hazard, and how it was being managed, if at all. Since we considered it a characteristic reactive waste (D003), this was a serious concern. In the end, we did not make friends with the machinist who had been collecting most of it. On week-ends he was a black-powder musket enthusiast, using the Al powder as a primer. Our options presented to management were to continue allowing the beneficial use of this Al powder (i.e.; not a solid waste if it was itself a commercial chemical product), mix it with sand (which would have been “treatment”, requiring a permit, and manage as a solid waste) or to collect it safely and manage off-site to a permitted hazardous waste facility.
If your vacuum can safely collect it, I recommend you perform a waste characterization under RCRA and manage it to a permitted treatment, storage of disposal facility. Unless, of course, you are a black powder musket enthusiast.
Environmental Management, Ltd.
Your health is our EHS bottom line.
Dear DCHAS members:
One of PI in our campus is using 40 micron aluminum powder for the research purpose. After experiment/manipulations, they generate dust (fine layer of Al dust) in the room as well as in instrument surfaces. According from F1 Sheet from the Aluminum Association specified “Standard commercial industrial vacuum cleaners must not be used during cleaning. Vacuum cleaning systems, designed and certified for use with Group E combustible dusts may be used, with limitations (see NFPA 484)”. Aluminum powder is highly flammable and can explode in the air under circumstances. [MSDS (JT Baker): Flammable solid, dust may form flammable or explosive mixture with air. Nanomaterial Store MSDS: contact with water liberates extremely flammable gases, spontaneously flammable in air.]
According to NFPA 484: 126.96.36.199.4: When being used for aluminum powders and aluminum dust, portable vacuum cleaners shall be used only if listed or approved for use with group E dusts (combustible aluminum dust) and shall be identified for use with aluminum only.
I need your recommendations/suggestions in respect to cleaning/decontamination procedures used for the fine layer of materials. Please let me know if any of your facility is working with similar conditions with the aluminum dust. I will greatly appreciate your help in this matter.
Tilak Chandra, Ph.D.
Chemical Safety Specialist
Environment, Health and Safety
University of Wisconsin-Madison
30 East Campus Mall
Madison, WI 53715
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