NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Blasting abrasives' hazard comparison using in vivo data and respirable dust generating characteristics from environmentally-controlled laboratory & field studies.

Greskevitch MF; Ahlers H; Castranova V
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2001 Jun; :24
Abrasive blasting, a process of bombarding surfaces with a media of small abrasive particles carried in a high velocity air stream, is used for cleaning and etching various surfaces. Historically the most common form of abrasive blasting, sand blasting, generates respirable silica dust, which can lead to the development of silicosis, a potentially deadly lung disease. Several substitutes for silica sand have been suggested, but little data exist on the relative risks of these alternative media in abrasive blasting applications. This study compares the in vivo toxicity and dust generation characteristics of several blasting abrasives including silica sand, coal slag, copper slag, nickel slag, garnet, staurolite, steel grit, olivine, specular hematite, and crushed glass. An abrasive blasting laboratory and field study was conducted in a controlled environment to compare concentrations of respirable dust and various toxic contaminants for each of the alternative abrasives relative to silica sand. The relative in vivo toxicity of these materials has been reported by NIOSH investigators using intratracheal instillation of equal respirable dust concentrations of each abrasive in male rats. Steel grit and specular hematite were the only alternative abrasives that had lower in vivo toxicity than blast sands. These two abrasives also had substantially lower respirable dust concentrations than blast sands. Olivine and coal slag were the only alternative abrasives that had higher in vivo toxicity than blast sands. Olivine also had substantially higher respirable dust concentrations than blast sands. The airborne respirable dust concentrations of the abrasive blasting environmentally-controlled laboratory and field studies are combined with the intratracheal instillation toxicity studies' results to present a hazard comparison. Using this dust comparison indicates that steel grit and specular hematite have a lower hazard ranking relative to silica sand; while olivine and coal slag have a substantially higher hazard ranking.
Abrasive blasting; Abrasives; Blasting agents; Particulates; Air flow; Respiration; Respiratory irritants; Respiratory system disorders; Respiratory hypersensitivity; Dusts; Dust particles; Dust exposure; Dust inhalation; Silica dusts; Silicosis; Laboratory testing; Carcinogens; Toxins; Toxic effects; Hazards; Exposure levels
Publication Date
Document Type
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana
Page last reviewed: July 9, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division