Safe alternatives for abrasive blasting

Learn about the safer materials that must be used for abrasive blasting in place of materials containing more than 1% crystalline silica.

Date last updated

Thursday 02 Jan 2020

Industries and topics
  • Construction
  • Crystalline silica

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:

  • garnet
  • 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).