Silica sand is the most commonly used abrasive and typically has the most negative impact. Silica sand quickly breaks up and creates large quantities
of dust, which when exposed to the operator can cause Silicosis, a debilitating lung disease.
Coal or Smelter Slag
Coal or smelter slag contains low silica content and therefore does not cause Silicosis. However, these abrasives have been reported to release other Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP's) into the air.
Metallic, Synthetic & Mineral
These other types of abrasives are growing in popularity due to the low dust creation and reclamation of material. Each of these abrasives reports significantly less dust and waste than sand and coal/slag abrasives. Most commons are steel grit, steel shots, copper slag, glass beads (bead blasting), metal pellets, dry ice, garnet, powdered slag and powdered abrasives of various grades.
It is typically ground coconut shells, walnut shells, baking soda, corncobs or fruit kernels. These soft abrasives are used for cleaning of brick or stone work or the removal of graffiti without damaging the underlying material. They could also be used for the removal of conformal coatings from printed circuit boards for rework. In some specific applications, distinct surface finishes are created with organic abrasives.
Abrasives for Glass
In glass blasting industries, the most popular abrasives are aluminium oxide and garnet. Aluminum oxide is an artificial product while garnet is natural.