Dust types on the job

Dust types on the job

Bosch Professional Dust Control

Dust types

Some dust types are more hazardous than others. None are good for the body. As long as there is drilling, cutting, sawing, grinding, sanding, or breaking on your jobsite, you can expect airborne dust and all the issues that come with it. But not all dust types are equal. On this page we cover some of the most common and hazardous types of dust that you will encounter on the job.

Silica dust: Did you know?

smaller than a grain of sand. That's how small silica dust can be.¹
0 hrs
for a silica particle to fall by 1 m. That's how long it stays airborne.²
0 mil.
EU workers are at risk of silicosis. That's how widespread silica dust is.³

Where it comes from: Concrete, cement, brick, mortar, tile, sandstone, pebbles, limestone, marble, etc.

​​Health issues: Silica dust is increasingly acknowledged as a dangerous dust type in construction work. Inhaling silica can cause serious health issues, including silicosis (scarring and stiffening of the lungs), lung cancer, tuberculosis, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc.

​​Risk level: Medium-High


Where it comes from: Soft wood, hard wood, MDF, plywood, etc.

​​Health issues: Long-term exposure can lead to a range of health issues, such as eye or skin irritation, breathing issues, etc. Certain hard woods have even linked to nasal cancer. Wood is rarely pure: In renovation projects, wood can include other chemicals, such as resins, pesticides, paint, glues, lacquers, etc. Old wood may contain also mold spores, etc. ​​

Risk level: Medium-High


Where it comes from: Drywall, plaster, etc. ​​

Health issues: Plaster or gypsum dust is not hazardous for your skin. However, it can irritate your eyes, nose, mouth and throat. Without any dust control, long-term exposure can negatively affect your lungs, etc.

​​Risk level: Low


Where it comes from: Older buildings prior to the 1990s, before asbestos was banned from use. Vinyl floor tiles, ceiling tiles, cement roof sheeting, etc. ​​

Health issues: A small level of exposure can be enough to cause mesothelioma (cancer of the lung lining). Long-term exposure can cause diseases such as asbestosis (scarring of the lungs), lung cancer, colon cancer, etc.

​​Risk level: High

Dust classes: A risk level assessment
How to choose the right dust extraction class according to dust type

Thanks to modern technology and increased awareness, we now have a better understanding of the different levels of danger that come with different dust types. Generally, dust types in trade and construction can be categorized by risk:

The right dust class for the right dust type
See all Dust Extractors

S.T.O.P. Principle
S.T.O.P. Principle
What is it?

Taught around the world as an occupational health and safety standard, S.T.O.P. is an easy way to remember 4 steps when it comes to dust control.

S.T.O.P. Principle
S.T.O.P. Principle
S for Substitution

The best way to stop dust is to not create any at all. Find alternatives to avoid creating dust in the first place. For example, instead of drilling to mount or install an object, you could consider substitutes such as fastening with nailer, adhesive glues, putty, or velcro.

Learn more about our nailer range

S.T.O.P. Principle
T for Technical Measures

Use tools, technologies or machines to reduce dust in the air. For example, a wood workshop could be equipped with ambient air filters or local exhaust ventilation.

S.T.O.P. Principle
S.T.O.P. Principle
O for Organisational Measures

Dust control requires teamwork: Step up awareness in your organization. Implement new methods of of low-dust working. Support training and knowledge sharing.

S.T.O.P. Principle
S.T.O.P. Principle
P for Personal Protective Measures

As a final act of defense, wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as dust masks or respirators. This is a safeguard against any accidental air leakage, for example, during the disposal of the dust bag.

S.T.O.P. Principle

¹ OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration)

² BG Bau (German instution for statutory accident insurance and prevention for the construction industry)

³ European Trade Union Institute

⁴ Risk assessment of dust types can differ by country. To increase worker protection, some countries prefer to err on the side of caution, categorising certain dust types as higher risk. For example:

  • Wood dust: Both soft and hard wood can cause respiratory issues, such as asthma. However, hard wood can cause a rare form of nasal cancer and is often considered more dangerous than soft wood. In some countries, soft wood is considered a low-risk dust, while hard wood is considered a medium-risk dust.
  • Silica dust: Some countries consider silica dust medium-risk, while some others consider it high-risk. Local regulations keep changing in favor of higher levels of protection. Increasingly, silica dust will be considered high-risk in more countries.

To achieve compliance, always check the dust regulations from your local authorities.