NORWOOD, Mass. - Jenny Chao, a senior research scientist for insurer FM Global, explains the background that lead to her work studying combustible dust explosions. 

"My area is explosions that affect industries," she tells the New York Times. "I blow things up to try to predict and prevent explosions. I also test products designed to prevent explosions and make recommendations on how clients can avoid risks." 

Chao tests wood dust, grain, flour, cornstarch, and other dust-laden materials at FM Global's research lab in West Gloucester, Rhode Island. The company periodically runs loss prevention webinars related to combustible dust.  

"I also ignite all kinds of flammable gases," Chao says. A recent experiment involved powdered milk manufacture, which produces one of the most combustible off dusts. Bottles filled with sodium bicarbonate were tested as a suppressant for flames. 

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