Dangers of Silica: Sandblasting Glass
Sandblasting glass, also known as abrasive blasting, is a process in glass manufacturing in which coarse sands are blasted under high pressure to smooth a rough surface, rough a smooth surface, or remove contaminants from a glass surface.
The abrasive sand contains a crystal called silica. Silica is an ingredient in abrasive sands that help to give the sand its coarse nature. Unfortunately, silica is also quite toxic if inhaled regularly (on the job every day). There are various health hazards that can arise from inhalation of silica.
Long term exposures to dusts containing silica can lead to various respiratory ailments including:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (including bronchitis and emphysema)
- Lung cancer
- End stage renal disease
- Decline in respiratory function
Because silica is the basic constituent of sand, many processes involving use and production of abrasive sands and sandblasting can have silica health implications.
As anyone can see by the health implications of inhaling silica listed above, the hazards are no laughing matter as some of these diseases are fatal. Glass workers who specialize in sandblasting should always be wearing a safety mask to prevent the inhalation of toxic dust. Utilizing the proper safety practices when it comes to sandblasting can mitigate the risks of inhaling silica. When it comes to health of employees, best practices should be taken very seriously.
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