A worker wearing a powered air purifying respirator.

Airborne particles

Learn how to reduce exposure and improve safety.

View the abrasive safety assessment guide

Inherent in most abrasive processes, airborne particles are generated from both the working of a material (sanding, grinding, cutting, etc.) and from the wear of the abrasive material itself. Extremely fine airborne particles can be particularly hazardous, as they are often invisible to the naked eye and are more easily absorbed into lungs and respiratory tracts, leading to long-term health risks.


Airborne particles pose a risk to

  • An icon of a hand.
    Skin
    • Tends to be caused by larger dust particles
    • Can cause short-term health issues, such as irritation, redness, discomfort and abrasion
  • An icon of an eyeball.
    Eyes
    • Contact lens wearers are especially susceptible
    • Can cause short-term health issues, such as irritation, redness, discomfort and abrasion
  • An icon of lungs.
    Lungs
    • Generally impacted by extremely fine particles, that are invisible to the naked eye
    • Can cause both short and long-term health issues

    Please note: breathing problems resulting from dust exposure are not always instant and can take several years to develop.

Employers’ responsibility

Employers are required to implement measures to eliminate, reduce and control occupational exposures to hazardous substances to levels below the applicable occupational exposure limits. Respiratory protection must be used in accordance with the requirements of the CSA Standard Z94.4 and the requirements of the applicable jurisdiction.

*Content source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. www.ccohs.ca and independent testing by VITO


Managing and preventing airborne particles

  • An icon of a vacuum.
    Dust control systems

    Dust control systems, such as dust extraction systems, can be used to divert dust away from operators.

    See dust control products  

  • An icon of a respirator.
    Personal protective equipment (PPE)

    Personal protective equipment, such as respiratory and eye protection, can be used to help keep hazardous particles out of eyes and lungs.

    See worker health and safety products  


**Compared to 3M™ High Perfromance Grinding Wheel. According to independent testing by VITO.


Learn more about abrasives safety

A metalworker grinding a piece of metal.

See for yourself how 3M Abrasives can help you mitigate hazards

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3M reserves the right to discontinue or terminate this offer at any time. 3M reserves the right to provide demos 3M Abrasives to those who complete the web request form and qualify. Available to Canadian residents only. Limit of one sample per person. No purchase necessary. No substitutions, refunds, transfers or cash equivalent payments will be allowed. One demo per person and/or address. Please allow 2-4 weeks for follow up. 3M is not liable for undelivered samples.


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