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Stop Silicosis In Sandblasters Use Silica Substitutes

Something is still killing sandblasters. It is a lung disease called silicosis, and it is preventable. The disease and its cause have been recognized for decades; yet many sandblasters still contract this debilitating and deadly disease caused by the inhalation of silica sand dust.

Because controlling a sandblaster's exposure to silica dust is apparently so difficult, one way of reducing the risk of silicosis to this segment of the work population is by substituting a less toxic material for silica sand during abrasive blasting operations.

Great Britain and the European Economic Community have restricted the use of silica sand as an abrasive blasting material since 1949, and 1966, respectively. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended since 1974 that silica sand (or other substances containing more than one percent free silica) be prohibited as an abrasive blasting material and that less hazardous substitutes be used.

There are a number of materials available as alternative abrasive blasting media. The major substitute materials are listed inside this bulletin along with some information about each. Additional information regarding particular applications should be obtained from the distributors of the various substitute materials.

Note that the cost per ton is misleading when compared to silica sand because many of the listed substitutes are recyclable and can therefore be reused. A more useful index of actual cost is price per square foot. A formula used in the industry to calculate the cost per square foot is presented on the last page of this bulletin. The real cost will vary depending on the particular application and factors associated with each job. When compared to silica sand in this manner, you will find that the costs of some silica substitutes are competitive.

The health effects of many of the silica substitutes have not been determined, and the materials removed by abrasive blasting are often very hazardous. It is therefore important to remember that no matter what abrasive blasting material you use, you must still employ appropriate control measures (e.g. containment, ventilation, and filtration) as well as provide workers with training and effective personal protective equipment (e.g. respirators and clothing).


New Jersey State Deparment of Health
Occupational Health Service
Occupational Health Surveillance Program
PO Box 360, Trenton, N.J. 08625-0360
(609) 984-1863


  PRICE* SPECIAL EQUIPMENT PROPERTIES
ALUMINUM OXIDE $660/Ton None Required
(Usually Used in Cabinets
or Rooms with Recycling Equipment
Closely Sized
Very Hard (MOH 8.5-9)
BAKING SODA
(Sodium Bicarbonate)
$900/Ton Yes
(Meters Less Product/Min
and Dries Air)
Natural (Flow and Rinse Agents Added)
Water Soluble
Non-Sparking
Non-Flammable
COAL SLAG $44/Ton None Required Hard (MOH 6-7)
Angular
Uniform Density
Low Friability
COPPER SLAG $50/Ton None Required Hard (MOH 7-8)
Blocky
Sharp Edged
CORN COB GRANULES $350/Ton Special Ventilation
May Be Required in
Enclosed Areas to
Control Combustion
Medium Hardness (MOH 4.5)
Non-Sparking
DRY ICE
(Carbon Dioxide)
$60-80/Ton Dry Air Required Natural Gas in Solid State
GARNET $325/Ton None Required
(Additional components required in order to recycle Media)
Very Hard (MOH 8)
Very Heavy (S.G. 4.1)
Subangular
GLASS BEADS $500/Ton None Required
(Usually Used in
Blast Cabinets
with Recycling Equipment)
Manufactured of Soda Lime Glass
NICKEL SLAG $70/Ton None Required Very Hard (MOH 7-8)
Blocky
Sharp Edged
NUT SHELLS $360/Ton Special Ventilation May Be Required in Enclosed Areas to Control Combustion Soft
Non-Sparking
OLIVINE $76/Ton None Required Natural Mineral
Hard (MOH 6.5-7)
High Specific Gravity, Angular
PLASTIC MEDIA $3000-4000/Ton None Required
(Additional Components
Required in Order to
Recycle Media)
Soft
Non-Abrasive
Polyester, Urea, Melamine Varieties
STAUROLITE $75-140/Ton None Required
(Additional Components
Required in Order to
Recycle Media)
Rounded Grains
Hard (MOH 6.5-7)
Irregular Shape
STEEL GRIT & SHOT $425-475/Ton None Required
(Additional Components
Required in Order to
Recycle Media)
Uniform Size
Uniform Hardness
Can be Manufactured to Various Specifications


Silica Substitutes continued ...
 

  APPLICATIONS ADVANTAGES
ALUMINUM OXIDE Cleaning Hard Metals (e.g. Titanium)
Removing Metal
Etch Glass
Carve Granite
Recyclable
BAKING SODA
(Sodium Bicarbonate)
General Paint Removal
Stripping Aircraft Skins
Cleaning Surfaces in Food Processing Plants
Removing Paint from Glass
Less Material Used/Less Cleanup
Low Nozzle Pressures (35-90 PSI)
Non-Sparking
Water Soluble
COAL SLAG General Paint, Rust & Scale Removal from Steel
Paint Removal from Wood
Exposure of Aggregates
Less Than 1% Free Silica
Inert
Fast Cutting
Creates Anchor Profile
COPPER SLAG General Paint, Rust & Scale Removal from Steel
Paint Removal from Wood
Rapid Cutting
CORN COB GRANULES Deburring
Paint & Rust Removal from Wood & Metal
Low Consumption
Low Dust Levels
Biodegradable
DRY ICE
(Carbon Dioxide)
Cleaning Aircraft Parts
Cleaning Exotic Metals
No Residue Remains
Minimal Cleanup
GARNET General Paint, Rust & Scale Removal from Steel Lower Nozzle Pressures (60-70 PSI)
Low Dust Levels
Fast Cleaning Rates
Can be Recycled 6-7 Times
Low Free Silica
GLASS BEADS Cleaning & Polishing
Deburring
Uniform Size and Shape
Recyclable
Provide High Luster Polished Surface
NICKEL SLAG General Paint, Rust & Scale Removal from Steel Rapid Cutting
NUT SHELLS Cleaning Soft Materials (e.g. Aluminum, Plastic, Wood)
Cleaning Surfaces in the Petroleum Industry
High Removal Speed
Non-Sparking
Low Consumption
OLIVINE Clean Light Mill Scale & Rust from Steel
2.5 MIL Profile & Finer
Low Chloride Ion Level
Low Conductivity
PLASTIC MEDIA Cleaning Soft Metals & Composites
Cleaning Metal Fabric Screens
Inert
Recyclable
Does Not Damage Metal Surfaces
Low Nozzle Pressures (20-40 PSI)
STAUROLITE Cleaning Corroded, Pitted, Weathered Steel Creating Anchor Profile on New Steel Lack of Imbedment
Good Feathering
Low Dust Levels
Recyclable 3-4 Times
STEEL GRIT & SHOT Paint, Rust & Scale Removal from Steel Surface Preparation of Structural Steel in Centrifugal Wheel Units Can be Recycled 100-200 Times
Low Dust Levels
Superior Visibility
Portable Blast Rooms Available
Creates Anchor Profile


Silica Substitutes continued ...
 
  LIMITATIONS
ALUMINUM OXIDE Must be Reclaimed and Reused for Economy
BAKING SODA
(Sodium Bicarbonate)
May Damage Soft Brick
COAL SLAG Tendency to Imbed in Mild Steel
May Contain Toxic Metals
COPPER SLAG Tendency to Imbed in Mild Steel
May Contain Toxic Metals
CORN COB GRANULES Does Not Create an Anchor Profile
DRY ICE
(Carbon Dioxide)
 
GARNET  
GLASS BEADS Does Not Create an Anchor Profile
NICKEL SLAG Tendency to Imbed in Mild Steel, Poor Visibility, Might React with Corrosion Inhibitors
Used in Wet Blasting
May Contain Toxic Metals
NUT SHELLS Non-Etching
Potential Fire Hazard
OLIVINE  
PLASTIC MEDIA Anchor Profile Limited to Soft Substrates (e.g. Aluminum and Plastic)
STAUROLITE May Contain Up to 5% Free Silica
STEEL GRIT & SHOT  

Prices are only NJDOH estimates based on the best information available in 1994.


COST PER SQUARE FOOT

A formula for calculating the cost of abrasive blasting per square foot of surface area:

( (A*B) + C + D ) + E = Actual Cost

X
where:
A = delivered cost of abrasive media ( $ )

TON
 
B = consumption rate ( TONS )

HOUR
 
C = labor cost ( $ )

HOUR
 
D = equipment cost ( $ )

HOUR
 
E = productivity ( SQUARE FEET )

HOUR
 
F = miscellaneous (e.g. disposal costs) ( $ )

SQUARE FOOT

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

New Jersey Department of Health
Occupational Health Service
PO Box 360
Trenton NJ 08625
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
4676 Columbia Parkway
Cincinnati OH 45226
1-800-35-NIOSH

Funding for this fact sheet was provided in part by the SENSOR Cooperative Agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

New Jersey State Department of Health
Occupational Health Surveillance Program
PO Box 360
Trenton, New Jersey  08625-0360

Department of Health

P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
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Last Modified: Monday, 09-Jul-12 12:08:00