WEST LAFAYETTE, INDIANA, US – Eight grain dust explosions were reported in the United States in 2020 with nine injuries, but there were no fatalities, according to a report released on Feb. 13 by Purdue University.

The report noted that the 10-year average for injuries is 8.1; it is 1.7 for fatalities. In 2019, eight explosions occurred with one death and four injuries, while 2018 saw 12 explosions with one death and four injuries.

The grain types identified in the 2020 explosions included two cases of corn, two wheat, two mixed feed, one rice and one dietary fiber. Dust explosions occurred in eight different states, including Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri and Arkansas.

Four of these explosions occurred in a grain elevator, and the remaining four in a feed mill, corn mill, rice mill and grain processor for dietary fiber.

Grain dust is a highly combustible substance and often airborne in handling and processing facilities. Explosions occur when there is a source of ignition, often from small, unintentional sparks within the facility.

King Ambrose, associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue, emphasized the importance of compiling these statistics each year.

“Most companies use this information for training their employees,” Ambrose said. “Regulatory authorities also use incident reports for their training purposes. It helps with creating or spreading awareness on dust explosions and their causes.”