Coal dust is a fine powdered form of which is created by the crushing, grinding, or pulverizing of coal. Because of the brittle nature of coal, coal dust can be created during mining, transportation, or by mechanically handling coal. It is a form of fugitive dust.
Grinding coal to dust before combusting it improves the speed and efficiency of burning and makes the coal easier to handle. However, coal dust is hazardous to workers if it is suspended in air outside the controlled environment of grinding and combustion equipment. It poses the acute hazard of forming an explosive mixture in air and the chronic hazard of causing pulmonary illness in people who inhale excessive quantities of it.
The distribution of the particle-size of coal dust is frequently measured in mesh. The British slang term for cheap fuel consisting of coal dust (slack) containing small lumps of coal (nuts) is nutty slack.