Not many people know it, but sandblasting is one of the most dangerous jobs around. Why? Primarily because sandblasters are exposed to high levels of silica that are present in the air, which can be quite life threatening. This is especially true when safety precautions are not in place.
This is the reason why it is highly suggested that sandblasting be left to the professionals. There is also the issue of possible faulty equipment that can result in critical physical injuries. What other dangers does sandblasting pose to the untrained person?
Exposure or inhalation of crystallized silica is toxic because it can result in a lung condition known as silicosis. This happens when the rocks are damaged, releasing harmful silica into the air. The silica particles are so small that they are virtually invisible. Silicosis is also often referred to as sandblaster’s disease.
Why is it so dangerous? Because silicosis is considered incurable and untreatable. A person with this condition will have his lungs filled with fibrous tissue. Even if the person is no longer exposed to silica particles, there is no way of reversing the condition. Those working in sandblasting jobs have the highest exposure risk to silicosis, which can be aggravated by poor ventilation in the work environment.
The best hope for survival is the early detection of silicosis. Additional or continued exposure though will result in the development of complications that will further put the person’s health at risk.
Dust in the Environment
We are not talking about the ordinary dust that we encounter at home. When it comes to the sandblasting work environment, there are primarily 2 types of dusts that people should be concerned about:
- Airborne Dust – these are hazardous dusts identified with sandblasting operation. The concentration and size of the dust particles become determinants of the level of danger that it poses. Larger dusts can be considered as mere nuisances because they can be filtered by the nose and throat. However, smaller particles, particularly those that are 10 microns or smaller can pass through the filtering system of the lungs and go deep into our respiratory system where numerous damage can happen.
- Metal Dust – these dusts are produced from the blasting of metals like cadmium, lead, or manganese, which are very toxic once inhaled. Paints that are lead base can also pose such danger. The need for special handling procedures is the reason why sandblasting should only be done by trained personnel, especially when lead is involved.
Filtered Air Systems
Why should sandblasting be done only by professionals? Only professionals understand the importance of having the proper air filtration system in the work environment. This means you simply cannot do blasting operation in your garage. The air filtration system is an additional safeguard to protect workers from silicosis.
So the untrained person does not understand or will not realize when an air filtration system breaks down or how silica exposure can be avoided. Professionals have to do routine air tests in the sandblasting work environment to make sure that the amount of silica remains in safe levels. If the tests are not done, there is no way of ensuring the safety of workers.
It is not enough that you are wearing protective gear when sandblasting. Clean compressed air from a filtration system must be present. Any damage or leak in the filtration’s air supply will put workers at risk of silicosis. Professionals understand likewise the need to keep wearing their helmets in the work area at all times. Only proper training will equip workers with the knowledge that the filters are clean and in good working order.
Bottom line is that the only safe way to protect yourself from potential respiratory system damage and possible lung disease is to hire professionals to do the sandblasting for you.
Make sure that you are getting the best sandblasting services possible with the highest quality of work, Contact Byers Bush, a professional company in sandblasting metal products and get your valuable equipments a smooth finish for them to be powder coated.