Sandblasting has many useful applications. You can use it to clean and abrade a variety of different surfaces, especially metal ones. However, it is not surprising that there are certain safety hazards that come with it. It is very important to use the right protective equipment when you are using a sandblaster. In particular, sandblaster helmets are very important.
Many people might just think that sandblasting is potentially dangerous because of the particles that can fly into your face and cause pain and possible damage on contact. However, the potential hazards are not this simple. In addition to the pain caused by instant contact with fine particles, sandblasting without the appropriate protection can actually lead to serious or even fatal respiratory disease in the people who are engaging in this activity.
The crystalline silica that is a part of the sand used in abrasive blasting can easily be inhaled by workers if they are not wearing protection. The sand usually fractures into fine particles and will become airborne during the process. Inhalation of this silica has been shown to lead to a more severe lung reaction then inhalation of silica that has not been freshly fractured. The lungs will end up developing fibrotic nodules and scarring around the silica particles that become trapped as a result of inhalation. This condition is called silicosis. If the nodules become too large, it might actually become difficult to breathe comma with death being the consequence of the worst cases. Victims of silicosis are also at a much higher risk for the development of active tuberculosis. The problem is actually quite common, as over one million workers in the United States are at risk of the development of silicosis, and more than 100,000 of these are sandblasters. As such, it is important to stress that protective measures be taken when performing this work.
Acute silicosis is less common now than it was decades ago, due to the fact that exposure to respirable crystalline silica has been reduced by engineering controls, and alternative abrasives are also being used more frequently. However, most people who do this work do so without the adequate respiratory protection. Sandblaster helmets are very important in order to protect workers from silicosis. These helmets come with hood masks and supplied air respirators, which protect them from the silica that they would otherwise be inhaling. It is very important for their short-term and long-term health that they wear these helmets while they are doing their work, and more of them need to be aware of just how important it is.
Sandblaster helmets are not only important to protect the skin of the workers from the abrasive particles that are moving around, but also to their long-term respiratory health. They need to be aware of the risks that are associated with this work and take more care to protect themselves while doing it.