Dust ExposureDust Exposure

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Every year, thousands of workers are made ill by exposure to dust in the workplace, this results in an increase of lung diseases such as asthma, COPD and cancer.

Most industrial dusts contain particles of a wide range of sizes. The behaviour, deposition and fate of any particular particle after entry into the human respiratory system and the body response that it elicits, depend on the nature and size of the particle. HSE distinguishes two size fractions for limit-setting purposes termed ‘inhalable’ and ‘respirable’.


Inhalable dust approximates to the fraction of airborne material that enters the nose and mouth during breathing and is therefore available for deposition in the respiratory tract. Respirable dust approximates to the fraction that penetrates to the gas exchange region of the lung.

As an employer, you are responsible for taking effective measures to control exposure to hazardous substances and protect health.


The COSHH definition of a substance hazardous to health includes dust of any kind when present at a concentration in air equal to or greater than 10 mg/m3 8-hour TWA of inhalable dust or 4 mg/m3 8-hour TWA of respirable dust.

This means that any dust will be subject to COSHH if people are exposed above these levels. However, some dusts have been assigned specific WELs and exposure to these must comply with the appropriate limit. Airborne dust may be generated from a wide range of processes and work scenarios some of the more commons are as follows:

Click here to learn more about nuisance dust exposure.


Our consultants are here to help you and can develop and implement monitoring strategies to identify if maximum exposure limits are being exceeded with respect to general dust or those dusts assigned with specific WEL's in the workplace.

Our team will advise on appropriate measures to be taken to reduce the risk of exposure and ensure you comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.


If you need any further assistance with dust in the workplace or would like to know more please get in touch and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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