Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Sandblasting?

The process of sandblasting involves the use of compressed air to direct abrasive materials towards a specific area. It is often used for cleaning, removing paint and etching patterns on a hard surface. The question on many people’s lips, however, is whether there are any side effects associated with the use of some of these abrasive materials. The answer to this question is especially important if you fear that you may have been exposed to something.

Air Contaminants
Some of the abrasive materials used in sandblasting are known to release air contaminants directly into the workspace. Coal slag, which is a popular material, is known to contain the following: arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, amorphous silica, chromium, cobalt, crystalline silica, lead, manganese, nickel, silver, titanium and vanadium.

Excessive Noise
No matter what type of abrasive material you are using, the equipment used for sandblasting is known to produce an excessive amount of noise that can damage your hearing. Even workers who are not operating the equipment but are standing nearby (such as supervisors) are known to develop hearing loss as a result of exposure.

Neurological Effects
A contaminant that is commonly found in many abrasive materials is lead; exposure to lead dust, which can often occur during sandblasting, can cause a number of neurological issues. Fatigue, irritability and impaired concentration are all common side effects, as is numb or weak feet and legs, which suggests damage to the nerves.

Respiratory Effects
Cadmium is another contaminant that is found in some abrasive materials and exposure can lead to a number of side effects to your respiratory system, including bronchitis and flu-like symptoms. These pulmonary problems can evolve into lung damage; if your exposure is high enough, this damage could be permanent.

Whilst it is true that there are some negative side effects associated with the use of sandblasting equipment, it is important to note that not all abrasive materials cause these problems and that there are ways to counteract them. Make sure that you are aware of the possible side effects caused by the material you are using and take the proper precautions. Whenever you are sandblasting, wear safety goggles, ear protection and a respirator.