Background and health risks
In the past, sand was commonly used for abrasive blasting. Sand is made up of crystalline silica and, during the blasting process, some of it is broken down into very small particles known as respirable crystalline silica.
Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica dust over time can cause lung diseases such as silicosis and lung cancer.
Banned in Victoria
The use of materials containing more than 1% crystalline silica for abrasive blasting has been prohibited since 2002.
You must not use materials such as silica sand, river sand, beach sand and other white sand for abrasive blasting. Doing so is an offence under Victorian health and safety legislation and may result in prosecution where large penalties can apply.
Alternative materials to be used
Use the following blasting media instead of materials that contain more than 1% crystalline silica:
- crushed glass
- glass bead
- metal shot
- aluminium oxide
- granulated plastic
- metal slag (although some may contain high levels of lead and chromium, which can present other health, safety and environmental risks).