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Controlling respirable quartz dust in sand-blasting: role of sand particle size and a dust suppression agent.

Nelson J; Soderholm S; Greskevitch M
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 2-7, 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2001 Jun; :55-56
Abrasive blasting with sand can generate high concentrations of respirable quartz dust to which workers can be exposed. Overexposure to such dust can lead to the development of silicosis, a potentially deadly lung disease. Abrasive blasting is prevalent in construction, automotive, and shipbuilding industries and is often used for cleaning. The process involves using high-pressure air to blast abrasive media against the surface to be cleaned. The impact against a hard surface causes the particles to fracture. If the particles are small enough, they can become airborne dust, easily spread by the air pressure generated by the abrasive blaster. Data from a previously described abrasive blasting laboratory study were analyzed to determine which experimental parameters correlated with lower respirable quartz dust concentrations. The blasting process was performed on 2-foot square steel plates with air samplers placed in locations around the testing area and on the operator. Some of the sands were treated with a commercial dust-suppressing agent. Analysis of the samples indicate that sands with initial larger particle sizes create higher levels of respirable quartz dust than sands with the lowest particle sizes (average particle size by sieve analysis <0.45 mm). The dust suppressant appears more effective in reducing respirable quartz concentrations when used on sands with the lowest initial particle sizes (>50% reduction). Sands with smaller initial particle sizes have similar consumption rates and cleaning rates when compared to those with larger initial particle sizes. According to the hierarchy of controls, substituting a less toxic material for sand in abrasive blasting should be considered. However, if sand is to be used, these data suggest that respirable quartz airborne concentrations might be reduced without sacrificing cleaning rate or increasing sand consumption by selecting abrasive sands with small initial particle sizes and adding a commercial dust suppressant.
Abrasive blasting; Blasting agents; Sand blasting; Respirable dust; Respiratory irritants; Dusts; Dust exposure; Exposure limits; Workers; Work environment; Quartz dust; Silicosis; Lung disease; Lung; Construction; Construction industry; Automotive industry; Shipyard industry; Particulate dust; Particulates; Airborne dusts
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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