Agricultural Dust Explosions - 1980 to 2005

Week 14 Dataset and Historical Background

Posted by David Velleca on June 7, 2018

Historical Background

Dust explosions are a hazard associated with industries where combustible dust particles are dispersed into the air. They are especially dangerous when they occur in enclosed spaces such as a grain elevator or feed mill, often causing thousands of dollars in damage, as well as injuries and death in extreme cases. These explosions require the correct balance of conditions - a combustible dust (such as wheat flour from milling), the suspension of the dust in the air in high concentrations, oxygen in the environment, confinement (for example within a grain elevator), and finally an ignition source. The ignition sources in these explosions can be varied, including human sources such as smoking or welding torches; mechanical issues like electrical arching within machinery, hot surfaces or electrostatic discharge from a conveyor belt; friction between the dust particles building up static electricity; or even lightning.

Significant research has been performed in identifying methods for reducing the risk of these devastating explosions, particularly at research institutions within the agricultural regions of the U.S. This research has resulted in a decrease in explosions, but the risk still remains. Take an hour of your time and see what kind trends you can find in the data. Post your viz to Tableau Public, and Twitter with the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday, tagging @TThrowbackThurs.

Data Source

The dataset this week was sourced from the Kansas State University Research Exchange. Please be sure to cite the source on your viz.

The photo on this page is of the Continental Grain Elevator Explosion in 1977 in New Orleans. The photo is by Bill Haber, in The Times-Picayune archive.