Air Monitoring During Abrasive Blasting

Do You Need Help Leveraging Your Abrasive Media Marketing With Airborne Monitoring Data?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two standards (“rules”) to protect workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica and beryllium. Those that do not adhere to these standards may be putting their workers at risk and could face fines from OSHA. More details on this can be found at the bottom of this page under “Risks of Not Adhering…”

Exposure Assessment Requirements

  • Unless blast cleaning is performed at a manufacturer or supplier’s facility, manufacturers and suppliers are not required to perform exposure assessments required by OSHA (i.e., measuring workers airborne exposures to respirable crystalline silica and beryllium)
  • However, a third-party exposure assessment can be used to leverage marketing/promote products using airborne monitoring assessment results (e.g., low exposure to specific hazardous substances)
  • Or, to refine manufacturing processes to decrease the airborne concentrations of the hazardous substances in the abrasive

KTA Can Help You With:

  • Bulk abrasive analysis for crystalline silica and beryllium content.
  • Determining the airborne concentrations of respirable crystalline silica and beryllium during abrasive blasting with your media or using your media and a competitor’s media.
  • Determining how these concentrations compare to OSHA exposure limits.
abrasive media testing silica beryllium air monitoring

KTA Provides the Following Services for Abrasives Manufacturers:

  • Industrial Hygiene Monitoring
    • Airborne monitoring during abrasive blast cleaning with client supplied abrasive(s)
    • Cold-rolled steel panels abrasive blast cleaned
    • Personal airborne samples collected in the blaster’s breathing zone
    • Intent is to determine the amount of airborne particulate (e.g., respirable crystalline silica, beryllium) released during blast cleaning
    • Analysis of samples conducted by an American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) accredited laboratory
  • Laboratory Testing
    • May include a variety of different tests, such as dust generation, recyclability, performance testing, qualification testing, that can differentiate abrasive media from one another
    • Can be used to compare attributes of the abrasive itself, including production rate (speed), effectiveness at removing existing coatings, recyclability, and dust generation
    • Also can also be used to evaluate coating system performance; these aspects include cleanliness, embedment, adhesion, and undercutting

Risks of Not Adhering to OSHA Standards Include:

Workers who inhale respirable crystalline silica, particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand, are at increased risk of developing silica-related diseases, including: silicosis (an incurable lung disease), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease.  The first of two standards apply to the construction industry and the second to general industry and maritime. The new standards reduce the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) averaged over 8 hours.

Workplace exposure to beryllium has been linked to chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and associated with lung cancer. The new beryllium standards apply to general industry, construction and maritime and reduces the OSHA PEL for beryllium to 0.2 µg/m3 averaged over 8 hours and establishes a short-term exposure limit (STEL) for beryllium of 2.0 µg/m3 over a 15-minute sampling period.

Exceedance of OSHA exposure limits for respirable crystalline silica and/or beryllium may result in increased costs to employers due to standard requirements, including implementing engineering and work practice controls, limiting access to high-exposure areas, providing the necessary personal protective equipment, assessing employee exposures, increased training, and offering medical examinations to certain exposed workers.

Contact Us

abrasive media coatings webinars

Watch a Free Webinar (click to signup) conducted by Dr. Leah K. Tipton and Carly McGee, of KTA. In it, they go in depth about KTA’s part in airborne monitoring of your abrasive media. They also explain how this optional testing can help market your abrasive media by proving that it falls within OSHA guidelines & regulations.


Leah K. Tipton, DrPH, CIH – Environmental Health and Safety Project Manager
412-788-1300 x 222,