Sandblasting, invented in the late 1800s, is essential when finishing various surfaces. In fact, this service is utilized in aerospace and defense, automotive manufacturing, architecture, and many other industries. However, there are many health hazards associated with sandblasting services that put professionals at serious risk. Read on to learn the dangers of this helpful finishing process.
Propelled Abrasive Materials
The actual process of sandblasting includes propelling abrasive materials at high speeds. These micro-objects, often either silica sand crystalline or metal slag, can physically irritate and injure exposed skin. To combat this risk, professional sandblasters wear appropriate PPE and garments to cover their sensitive extremities. This propulsion also produces high levels of dangerous noise, which can negatively impact an individual’s internal ear organs. Lastly, hot steam is often another byproduct of the sandblasting process and can cause severe burns and respiratory problems.
Exposure to Toxic Materials
Materials used for sandblasting services aren’t simply abrasive—many are toxic to the human body! For example, crystalline silica sand is a known carcinogen, respiratory irritant, and cause of silicosis. As such, individuals in sandblasting environments wear type CE abrasive-blasting respirator masks at all times to prevent toxic inhalation. These face coverings also protect your internal tissue and lungs from dust inhalation, which can lead to long-term respiratory complications. Lastly, certain surfaces that receive sandblasting services may contain and release toxins into the air, such as lead paint. Sandblasting professionals must check for these harmful materials before working on a surface.
Sandblasting produces an immense amount of friction between a surface and the blaster and propelled abrasive materials. Sometimes, this high-velocity friction creates static electricity, which lingers in the surrounding environment. Quite obviously, this enhanced static buildup significantly increases the risk of electrocution (albeit non-life threatening), equipment complications, and even static explosions. The best way to prevent these hazards is by installing a static grounding kit for the operator to stand on, ensuring electricity naturally flows to the earth.
The health hazards associated with sandblasting services should not overshadow the value and benefit of these processes. Sandblasting is an essential step when finishing surfaces and is applicable in a wide range of industries. Luckily, many businesses relying on this service strive to practice safe and environmentally friendly sandblasting for their consumers.