In 2017, it was discovered that a major producer of abrasive blasting media had been distributing coal slag contaminated with chrysotile, commonly known as white asbestos. Chrysotile is a known human carcinogen that can be extremely harmful when ingested or inhaled. Asbestos has been found to be a direct contributor to “chronic lung disease as well as lung and other cancers.” OSHA notes, “There is no safe level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber.”
Sponge-Jet has issued an official statement on the finding:
“A global abrasive supplier has recently recalled one of its Aluminum Silicate (Coal Slag) abrasives due to the presence of White Asbestos. Sponge-Jet has received many inquiries if its products contain this material. The answer is unequivocally NO. Sponge-Jet is a company founded on the concept of making abrasives that are better for coating performance, safer for workers, while creating significantly less impact on the environment. None of its products contain Coal Slag or Asbestos.”
This comes within a year of OSHA’s ruling on Beryllium, another known carcinogen present in coal slag. In January 2017, OSHA released their final rule on Beryllium. Much like Chrysotile, Beryllium is directly responsible for lung disease and lung cancer. Coal slag is a waste, generated by coal-fired power plants and sold as an inexpensive, yet toxic abrasive.
Nontoxic abrasives have been on the market for several years. OSHA has outlined several of the risks of abrasive blasting in this OSHA Fact Sheet. Sponge abrasives (also known as Recyclable Encapsulated Abrasive Media) are the only media listed as “less toxic” and have the ability to profile metal for coating.
In the long run, the liability from using toxic abrasives make then a risky and expensive option. Non-Toxic abrasives are a better long term value.