Solution Summary: Vacuum Blasting
Vacuum blasting is also referred to as “dustless blasting” or “closed-loop abrasive blasting.” Because it does not produce a dust cloud when used as recommended, it is ideal for use in confined spaces and on hazardous materials like surfaces coated with lead-based paint. Some vacuum blasting units are designed to filter dust and dislodged particles from the blasting media and route the recycled abrasive back to the blast pot so it can be reused multiple times.
Figure 1. The Vacuum Blasting Process
There are many different types of vacuum blasting systems designed for a variety of applications. These include:
Nederman SB750 Suction Blaster:
- Base Price: $1,501 (verified 1/24/19)
- Light duty
- Requires connection to air compressor
NovaTek Contained Blast System:
- Base Price: $10,799 (verified 1/24/19)
- Metal drums not included
- the type of surface (substrate) being cleaned (eg. masonry, steel, or concrete)
- the type of blasting media
- the thickness and type of paint or coating being removed
- the amount of air pressure being used
- the control methods being utilized
How Risks are Reduced:
Vacuum blasting captures dust and particles created by the abrasive blasting process at the point of generation, preventing them from being discharged into the environment and protecting both workers and the local community. Some vacuum blasting systems also use a closed circuit design to separate and recycle the spent abrasive. This reduces the likelihood of inhaling or coming in contact with hazardous substances while collecting, cleaning, and separating blasting media reclaimed from the environment.
Effects on Productivity:
If vacuum blasting is not practical, consider using a wet blasting (vapor blasting) technique to minimize dust generation. You can also switch to a safer abrasive material, for example, by using steel shot and grit instead of silica sand. The use of a blasting cabinet or enclosure can help isolate workers from hazardous substances. Laser surface cleaning can also be used for especially delicate substrates, and latex strippers will remove surface coatings while preventing release into the environment.
When performing abrasive blasting of any kind, use a Type CE NIOSH-certified blasting airline respirator with positive pressure blasting helmet. Abrasive blasting is also an extremely loud activity. OSHA requires that workers wear hearing protection sufficient to keep their 8-hour average noise exposure (LAeq) under 90 decibels, and NIOSH recommends maintaining it under 85 decibels.
Sara Brooks, MPH, CPH: CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training
Bruce Lippy, Ph.D., CIH, CSP, FAIHA: CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training
Mike Kassman, MAHP, CHST, PA-AIC, APT: CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training
To obtain information, visit SB750 Suction Blaster or contact 1-855-760-1182