Although the intent of compounding medications is to benefit patients therapeutically, the ingredients used in these medications may present occupational hazards to the workers compounding them.

Pharmacists, nurses, technicians, and others who prepare, handle and administer these medications may be exposed to significant health risks during the course of their work.

Hazardous exposure to workers may occur through inhalation of dust created during: hand manipulation; operation of a tablet encapsulation machine; and by performing sieving and granulation operations.

Although the greatest risk is to workers who are compounding these medications, people in adjacent work areas (e.g., clerical workers, support staff, maintenance personnel, and visitors) also may be at risk of exposure which can occur through inhalation of "fugitive" drug aerosols, or by contact with contaminated surfaces and floors.

Inhalation of nutraceutical dust may cause adverse reaction in susceptible persons.

Illnesses from inhalation of grain dust can range from mild irritation in the lungs to permanent lung damage or, in some situations, cause death.

Pharmaceutical Dust is Combustible and is an Explosion Hazard:

When most people think of controlling dust in the workplace, they think of taking steps to avoid inhaling dusts to prevent health problems. However, the accumulation of combustible dusts in the workplace can lead to far greater consequences. As seen in recent years, neglect of housekeeping and improper handling of combustible dusts can lead to property damage, injuries and loss of life.

Many of the solid ingredients, or excipients, used in the formulation of pharmaceutical oral solid dosage (OSD) forms have been shown to be combustible. As a result, operations typically found in this type of facility have the potential to generate exposable dust cloud atmospheres.

In general, combustible particulates having an effective diameter of 420 μm or smaller, as determined by passing through a U.S. No. 40 Standard Sieve, are generally considered to be combustible dusts. However, agglomerates of combustible materials that have lengths that are large compared to their diameter (and will not usually pass through a 420 μm sieve) can still pose a deflagration hazard. Therefore, any particle that has a surface area to volume ratio greater than that of a 420 μm diameter sphere should also be considered a combustible dust.

The vast majority of natural and synthetic organic materials, as well as some metals, can form combustible dust. The NFPA’s Industrial Fire Hazards Handbook states, “any industrial process that reduces a combustible material and some normally non-combustible materials to a finely divided state presents a potential for a serious fire or explosion.”

Suggested Industrial Vacuums for Recovery of Toxic & Combustible Dust

PrestiVac HEPAPlus* Vacuums are specifically designed to safely vacuum toxic dusts. Equipped with a Certified Absolute HEPAPlus*filter with an efficiency of 99.995% on 0.2 micron so there is no risk of exposure or contamination for the operator or the environment. These vacuums are tested for absolute filtration. Testing Method: IEST RP-CC034.3. H14. MIL-STD 282 / A.S.T.M. - D2986-91.  MPPS method EN 1822.

PrestiVac Explosion Proof/Dust Ignition Protected Vacuums are designed to safely vacuum explosive, flammable, combustible conductive* dusts. Our Explosion Proof/Dust Ignition Protected Vacuums are completely grounded and static dissipating because they are built entirely with non-sparking metals and do not have any painted components so there is no risk of fire or explosion from a spark or static build up. All the electrical components, including the motor and starter are totally enclosed so there is no source of ignition. Our explosion proof vacuum cleaners comply with NFPA 484 guidelines and are an effective tool for good housekeeping practise as per OSHA.

Which Industries are at Risk with Pharmaceutical Dust?