Talc Dust Collection

Reducing the Risk of Talc Dust Exposure

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in countless consumer applications. School kids learn that talc is the softest mineral—and how it scores 1 on the Mohs hardness scale—and it is this quality that contributes to much of its usefulness. The weak bonds within talc crystals cause the material to crumble into a fine powder whose grains slide over each other with ease. Besides being an excellent dry lubricant, talc has found its way into many household products and industrial processes.

In the home, talc appears in cosmetics and even food. Talc makes cosmetics more silky and spreadable. It serves as an anti-caking agent in both food and pharmaceuticals. As “talcum powder,” it is a widely used personal care product known for its drying, astringent qualities. (Currently there is discussion in popular media about a possible link between talcum powder and cancer, but scientific evidence has yet to confirm a connection. This issue is not immediately relevant to industrial concerns over talc.)

In industrial processes, talc appears in the production of plastics, ceramics, paper, rubber and more. Talc lends whiteness to plastics and serves as a good filler. In ceramics, talc allows firing temperatures to be reduced and also gives ceramics better thermal expansion. Talc is used in paper manufacturing to reduce surface friction between sheets and improve how ink adheres to a page. In rubber, talc improves UV radiation resistance and improves molding ability.


Exposure Risks for Talc

Since talc is used in such large quantities in industry, concerns mostly revolve around inhalation. Grains of talc dust are so small that it is easy for them to be inhaled deeply into the lungs. The Centers for Disease Control warn that talc can be absorbed into the body through inhalation and that effects of long-term exposure “may have effects on the lungs, resulting in talc pneumoconiosis.”

Most of the concerns with talc that concern cancer stem from the fact that one variety of talc includes asbestos. This naturally occurring mineral—fibrous tremolite—is not the talc that is used in home or industrial uses, however. Procedures exist to exclude this dangerous talc from the supply chain.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates workers’ exposure to talc dust. It does not classify talc as a human carcinogen, however it has set a limit for daily exposure.


Regulations for Talc Dust

Because talc is used in so many industrial processes, OSHA has set a rule for daily exposure for workers to talc dust. OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) for talc is 20 mppcf (million particles per cubic foot)—i.e., 2 mg/m3—as a time-weighted average (TWA). A TWA measures a worker’s exposure during an entire eight-hour workday and calculates the average exposure over that period. This exposure limit is the same for both general industry and construction.

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommends the same exposure limit for talc. This is significant because ACGIH limits are generally more strict than OSHA’s. In other words, the current OSHA standard is one a manufacturer will need to take seriously.

A manufacturer’s failure to comply with OSHA regulations for talc dust can bring serious fines. The administration can assess fines up to hundreds of thousands of dollars every time an offender is cited.

Solutions for Talc Dust

Talc dust can be controlled through a variety of means. On the upside, it is not toxic, but on the downside, it is often found in high volumes. Whether a business needs a source capture solution, an ambient capture one, or a combination of the two, RoboVent offers a wide variety of dust collectors and engineering services to meet any challenge.


Traditional Configuration

The traditional configuration maximizes performance with ductwork sized for optimal airflow for your specific applications.


VentMapping® Engineering

VentMapping is a systematic engineering and design service. Our comprehensive approach helps us find the safest, most effective and most efficient way to meet your goals.

RoboVent Maintenance Program, Clean Air and Industrial Air Filtration Solutions

ClientCare Maintenance Program

ClientCare lets you leverage RoboVent's expertise so you can reduce the burden on your maintenance staff and stay focused on your core business.


Fusion™ Series

A dust collector on the cutting edge of air filtration. The Fusion Series delivers exceptional performance and cost savings in a powerful, simple package.


Endurex RMO Cartridge Filters, Dust & Fume Air Filters

Endurex RMO Cartridge Filters

RoboVent's premium filter engineered to provide the best filtration protection for your plant and employees. A widened pleat and proprietary filter media help deliver top performance.