In the past, blast cleaning operations were done with silica sand abrasive. The word sandblasting originates from these days. Nowadays, people have come to realise that exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust during activities such as sandblasting can cause a serious or even fatal respiratory disease, called Silicosis, a scarring and hardening of the lungs.
In the Netherlands and many other countries, it is forbidden to use abrasives which contain more than 0,1% free silica. Silica sand abrasive contains much more free silica than 0,1 %, normally about 90%, but sometimes even up to 95% or more. During the blast cleaning operation the sand particles break down into very small micro-sized particles. These particles, smaller than 5 microns(µ) are inhaled and become embedded in the lung, causing respiratory problems, pulmonary silicosis (also called 'dust-lungs'), and eventually even death.
A good quality blast helmet, with a filtered respirator, is considered to be enough protection for the blasters during sandblasting, however this is only partly correct. During blast cleaning operations with silica sand abrasive, large clouds of dust will arise in the surrounding air. A crystalline silica dust particle of 2 microns (µ) drops only 1 metre per 24 hours, during windless conditions. This means that the dust-clouds remain invisibly in the air for a long time, long after the sandblasting is finished.
When the blaster has to stop working for a while, for whatever reason and he takes off the blast helmet, a large quantity of micro-sized silica dust will be deposited on the inside of the helmet. When he then starts his sandblasting work again and he puts the helmet back on, he will inhale an extreme dose of free silica dust instead of getting the protection he expected to get.
The risks for people in the vicinity of the sandblasting operation are even higher. Think of other workers on the sandblasting site, in the offices etc. The dust-clouds can be spread-out by the wind and these people do not have any protection at all.
During the past years, many countries have established laws to prohibit the use of sand as an abrasive for sandblasting. In the Netherlands, sandblasting with silica sand abrasive has been forbidden already since 1957 and instead of sandblasting we now speak about grit blasting, abrasive blasting or blast cleaning.
High quality substitute abrasives for blasting are widely available: Aluminium Silicate (coal slag grit), Glass Granulates, Olivine and Garnet sand. All these abrasives contain less than 0,1% free silica making them worldwide approved blast cleaning abrasives.
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Together with ARMEX we will be at the ReMaTec exhibition on 16-18 June. This event is dedicated to the automotive, industrial and heavy duty remanufacturing.
We will be showing you what soda blasting can do for your business.
If you want to visit us then please register here.
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Our New Zealand distributor posted a nice YouTube video of soda blasting an old Land Rover. For this demo they used the small Gritco Pequena-MSÂ with just a 4 mm nozzle. The soda media is the ARMEX Maintenance XLÂ formula.
For commercial use you can work even faster using large nozzles together with our MicroStrip machine!
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We have appointed a new exclusive distributor for the United Kingdom.
For all your Gritco blasting equipment (MicroStrip and BlastMate), accessories, spares, abrasives and service you can now contact:
Precision Blast Systems
New Manor House
Rudston - East Yorkshire
Tel: +44 (0)7816 09 23 33
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Gritco Equipment BV
2984 BB Ridderkerk