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How to prevent long-term health risks of abrasives dust.

Man with 3M personal safety equipment using an abrasive.

High speeds, temperatures and forces create obvious, immediate risks for injury in abrasive processes. Protecting your team means also mitigating the long-term health risks associated with the routine use of abrasives.

One of the leading abrasive health and safety concerns relates to airborne particles (dust) created due to cutting, shaping, sanding, finishing, and cleaning. Inhaling these airborne particles can lead to respiratory system problems like sensitization or allergic reactions, breathing problems, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Pneumoconiosis, and in certain situations, even specific types of respiratory cancers.

On average, 25% of workers consider dust and airborne particles to be a health and safety concern; a percentage that increases to 30% in fabricated structural metal and 41% in composites and finer sanding industries, according to research conducted by 3M.1 

Three simple ways to mitigate abrasives-related airborne particle hazards.

First, check the grade and type of abrasive being used; it can significantly affect the quantity and size of debris created. You can reduce your team’s overall airborne particle exposure time by choosing more efficient products, and you can even reduce the amount of time particles are airborne by choosing products that create longer chips.

In independent testing, 3M’s Precision-Shaped Grain (PSG) technology in 3M™ Cubitron™ II Abrasive Products was proven to effectively minimize exposure to airborne particles.1 Therefore, consider switching to products designed with airborne particles safety measures in mind, like these:

  • 3M™ Advanced Series Products (Silver) and 3M™ Cubitron™II Abrasive Products slice through and produce longer chips that are airborne for a significantly shorter amount of time.
  • 3M™ Cubitron™ II Fibre Disc 982C reduces exposure to airborne particles by 71% according to independent testing.2
  • 3M™ Cubitron™ II Depressed Centre Grinding Wheels reduce exposure to airborne particles by 40%.3

In addition to selecting the right abrasives, consider the following additional ways to protect your team:

  1. Review your dust extraction, transportation and collection processes to ensure thorough diversion of dust and other airborne particles.
  2. Make sure your team is equipped with the right personal protective equipment (PPE). From eye protection to respiratory protective equipment like 3M disposable, reusable or powered air respirators, make sure PPE is tailored to suit the individual needs of your team members.

To learn more about reducing operator exposure to dust and other airborne particles, request a copy of our Abrasives Safety Assessment Guide, visit, or contact a 3M expert today by filling out the form below.



  1. Data on file.
  2. According to independent testing by VITO comparing 3M™ High Performance Grinding Wheel to 3M™ Cubitron™ II Fibre Disc 982C.
  3. According to independent testing by VITO comparing 3M™ High Performance Grinding Wheel to 3M™ Cubitron™ II Depressed Centre Grinding Wheel.

About the Author

[enBio=Working with the 3M Abrasives Systems Division for over 10 years, Rob is the Scotch-Brite™ and Transportation Specialist. Focusing on metal finishing and paint repair, he works with customers in many industries across Canada to help them work more efficiently and safely by using the most appropriate industry leading abrasive products and tools. ],[enJob=Applications Development Specialist, Abrasive Systems Division, 3M Canada],[frBio=Travaillant à la Division des systèmes abrasifs de 3M depuis plus de 10 ans, Rob est le spécialiste en matière de produits Scotch-BriteMC et de transport. Axé sur la finition de métal et la réparation de peinture, il collabore avec des clients provenant de nombreux secteurs au Canada et les aide à travailler de façon plus efficace et sécuritaire en utilisant les bons outils et produits abrasifs.],[frJob=Spécialiste du développement d’applications, Division des systèmes abrasifs, 3M Canada]

Profile Photo of Rob Di Valentin
3M abrasive safety solutions.