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Cotton Dust

Cotton dust is often present in the air during cotton handling and processing. Cotton dust may contain many substances including ground-up plant matter, fiber, bacteria, fungi, soil, pesticides, non-cotton matter, and other contaminants that may have accumulated during growing, harvesting, and subsequent processing or storage periods.

Cotton dust hazards are addressed in specific standards for the general industry.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, Federal Registers (rules, proposed rules, and notices), directives (instructions for compliance officers), and standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to cotton dust.

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Federal Registers

Directives

  • Cotton Dust Manual. CPL 02-02-031 [CPL 2-2.31], (1981, January 16). Establishes OSHA policy and procedures necessary for enforcing at yarn manufacturing operations, at slashing, weaving, knitting, waste house operations, and at cotton warehousing operations on the premises of the cotton's processors.

  • Search all available directives.

Standard Interpretations

Hazards and Possible Solutions

Workers may be unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. The following references aid in recognizing and finding possible solutions for cotton dust hazards.

Hazard Recognition

  • Cotton dust (raw). National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. Provides the physical description, exposure limits, and measurement methods of cotton dust and many other chemical substances.

  • Occupational Respiratory Disease Surveillance. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Monitors the extent and severity of occupationally-related lung disease and related workplace exposures.

  • Work-Related Lung Disease (eWoRLD) Surveillance System - Volume 1: Byssinosis: Cotton Dust Exposure. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Offers the user quick access to all summary tables, figures, and maps of the Report in three formats (html, gif, pdf, and data in csv) on byssinosis and cotton dust exposure.

Possible Solutions

  • Cotton Dust Manual. CPL 02-02-031 [CPL 2-2.31], (1981, January 16). Establishes OSHA policy and procedures necessary for enforcing at yarn manufacturing operations, at slashing, weaving, knitting, waste house operations, and at cotton warehousing operations on the premises of the cotton's processors.

  • Washed Cotton. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 95-113, (1995, August). Covers the health effects of cotton dust exposure and offers various controls that can be implemented to avoid illness.

  • For additional information on possible solutions for cotton dust related hazards, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Training

  • Spirometry. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Includes design of the courses for those individuals who will be administering screening pulmonary function testing to employees who are exposed to cotton dust, and lists of course sponsors throughout the United States.

Other Resources

  • Worker Protection Standard. National Cotton Council (NCC). Provides information regarding industry resources, government affairs, and cotton publications.

  • The Way to Safety and Health for Textile Finishing Workers. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 77-208.

  • Profile of the Textiles Industry [5 MB PDF, 136 pages]. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Sector Notebook Publication No. EPA/310-R-97-009, (1997, November). Developed by EPA's Office of Compliance, this industry notebook contains detailed information on various topics that might be of interest to safety and health professionals. The notebook has been reviewed by experts from both inside and outside the EPA. Information covered includes: an industrial process description, a comprehensive environmental profile, innovative control programs, contacts, and a list of bibliographic references.

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