Wheel Blasting Dust Collection

Reducing the Risk of Wheel Blasting Dust Exposure

Wheel blasting has been around for nearly 100 years, and it remains a widely used process. Efficient and effective, wheel blasting is fundamentally the same as it was in the beginning—pairing a high-speed motor with abrasive materials. There’s no reason to think a technology this simple and great won’t be around for a long time.

Today’s wheel blasting operations can focus on optimizing abrasive materials, delivering the best finishes, and protecting workers. One of the key challenges of wheel blasting is controlling the dusts that come off the process. Some of the dusts found in these operations are regulated by specific standards, due to the toxic substances involved. Understanding what is in your air is a crucial step in protecting your workers and complying with regulations.


Exposure Risks for Wheel Blasting Dust

Wheel blasting dust can vary widely. The first place to look to understand these dusts is in the abrasive materials being used. Common materials include steel shot, steel grit, cut wire, glass beads, coal slag, nickel slag and garnet sand. Until recently, silica sand was commonly used, but this material is fading from popularity due to new regulations regarding respirable crystalline silica.

The forces involved in wheel blasting cause some of this material to turn to dust, and some of these dusts are more dangerous than others. For example, nickel slag contains both chromium and nickel. These substances are serious inhalation hazards. Exposure to nickel is associated with chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function and even cancers of the lung and of the nasal sinus. Understanding the content of your abrasive materials is the first step in identifying harmful dusts that might be in the air.

Understanding what substrates and coatings are being blasted is the next step. For example, if a coating being stripped happens to include lead paint, a wheel blasting operator needs to be particularly careful. As most know, exposure to lead can cause kidney problems, high blood pressure and cognitive damage. If lead dust is present, an operator should follow the protocols of the OSHA Lead standard.

Regulations for Wheel Blasting Dust

Some wheel blasting operations have self-contained chambers that handle dust effectively, but many do not. To better understand one’s air contents, a comprehensive air quality audit is a smart step to take. Given the large number of dusts that might be present, an audit is a great tool for addressing exactly what air quality challenges are present. Many professional, licensed, third-party services exist to perform these audits and report highly specific results.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued many regulations for substances that might be present in wheel blasting dust. These regulations often take the form of a permissible exposure limit (PEL), an amount of a substance a worker can be exposed to as averaged over an 8-hour shift. The PEL for nickel, for example, is 1.0 mg/m3. The PEL for lead is particularly tight at 50 µg/m3. Many of these limits—especially for metallic substances—will require concerted dust remediation in order to keep the air at a safe level. Controlling dust is also necessary for meeting these regulations. Failure to comply with regulations can carry serious fines.

Solutions for Wheel Blasting Dust

Wheel blasting operations deal with high volumes of dust, and RoboVent collectors are ideal for such an application. Our collectors feature rugged cabinet design, powerful blowers and proprietary, vertical filters that shed dust and last longer than their competitors. Whether your dust is nuisance dust or dangerous metallic dust, RoboVent dust collectors will clean your air and return it to the facility. RoboVent collectors such as those in the Fusion Series run efficiently and are designed to save energy and maintenance time, both of which add up to cost savings.

If a source capture solution is what you need, RoboVent’s portable dust collectors are a great solution. Whether you’re running one wheel blasting unit or many, RoboVent has the right air quality solution at the right price.

RoboVent’s passion is providing clean air for healthy workers and productive manufacturing. This dedication and our commitment to quality are why we stand behind our products with the best service and best warranty in the business.