Sand Blasting - Why Not?

Abrasive blast processes, most commonly and incorrectly referred to as sandblasting, are the use of abrasive material to clean or texturize a material such as metal or masonry(1).

Pauli Systems, Inc., an industry leading designer and manufacturer of abrasive blasting systems and equipment, adamantly supports the discontinuation of the use of sand as an abrasive media.
Why should you avoid the use of sand? Sand has a very high breakdown rate resulting in the production of large volumes of dust. When the sand fractures during impact it releases particles of free silica into the immediate atmosphere.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) changed the classification of silica to a Type 1 carcinogen known to cause Silicosis (3). Silicosis, an occupational lung disease, is a respiratory disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust.
Although there is no cure for Silicosis it can be prevented with occupational safety measures (4). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued an alert in 1996 warning that exposure to crystalline silica dust can cause serious or fatal respiratory disease. In the conclusion of this alert NIOSH noted that efforts to prevent silicosis may be inadequate if any of five conditions exist (2):

  • Lack of awareness of silica exposure as the cause for silicosis.
  • Failure to substitute abrasive blasting material with alternate media
  • Inadequate engineering controls
  • Inadequate respiratory protection for workers
  • Failure to conduct adequate surveillance programs
    As a result of these findings NIOSH issued thirteen workplace recommendations including (2):
  • Do not use silica sand or other substances containing more than 1% crystalline silica as abrasive blasting materials.
  • Use engineering controls and containment methods such as blast-cleaning machines and cabinets.
  • Conduct air monitoring to measure worker exposure and ensure that controls are providing adequate protection for workers.
  • Use adequate respiratory protection

Pauli Systems’ equipment is specifically designed for use with alternate blast media and to provide a safe working environment for the operator.
Please maintain the safest possible working environment for abrasive blast operators and NEVER USE A PAULI SYSTEMS PRODUCT with sand abrasive.


  1. Emission factors. (1997, September). Metallurgical industry, 42(13.2.6), Retrieved on March 23, 2010 from
  2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (1996). Preventing silicosis and deaths in construction workers. 
  3. SilicosisFYI, Goldsmith, D.F. PhD. (n.d.). Are other health effects of silica exposure being overlooked? 
  4. SilicosisFYI, Goldsmith, D.F. PhD. (n.d.). Silicosis prevention?