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Sandblast & Abrasive Blast Media Disposal – A Complete Guide

Whether you are just considering sandblasting or are a seasoned veteran a critical thing to consider is what will happen with your abrasive sandblast media.  To ensure you comply with pertinent regulations of sandblast media disposal it is critical to know proper steps to take both prior to starting your blasting job and after you have blasted. This article will provide guidance on what you need to consider before sandblast media disposal.

Why Sandblast Media Disposal Matters

When you sandblast a surface whatever was on the surface will typically be removed. What that means is that contaminants that were present on the surface will then be transferred into the air and abrasive blast media. The problem is that if there are hazardous materials you have blasting off like lead, coatings with contaminants, heavy metals, or others this can create problems for both individuals near by and for the environment. To address these problems it is important to consider what your blasting, what is being blasted off, and the proper organizations to consider.

What to Consider about abrasive media waste Prior to Blasting

Before blasting it can be critical to coordinate with your state EPA. The state EPA will help you understand any state specific rules related to sandblast media disposal and in many cases requires a permit before beginning sandblasting.  Most of the time you will have to consider containing the abrasive blast media you use because you will have to be able to verify any potential contaminants in the abrasive blast media after you have finished your sandblasting job. Failure to contain the blast media could create risks to others or the environment and even result in legal problems which is why containment is the best route.

Steps to Take After Blasting to Determine what to do to dispose of Abrasive

After you have blasted the sandblast media is considered to be solid waste and may be hazardous as well. Prior to disposal of the abrasive blast media it is critical to know whether it is hazardous if you plan on trying to dispose of it as non hazardous. In order to confirm whether or not the used blast media is hazardous requires proper testing.The test performed is called a Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) which is used to determine if any hazardous materials are present in the spent abrasive blast media. If your spent abrasive media has been determined to contain a hazardous compound your spent abrasive will be classified as hazardous and will require you to follow proper rules for disposal. Typically for hazardous material it will be easiest to coordinate disposal with an organization that is certified to address hazardous material disposal. If your abrasive ends up not being considered hazardous then it will typically be able to be disposed of in a sanitary landfill using standard procedures for disposal of solid waste. The details of disposal are always best to coordinate with a local waste management company in your area.


The key thing to remember when considering abrasive blast media disposal is to realize that abrasive blast media is considered a solid waste and that prior to blasting you will typically need approval from your state environmental agency to blast. Add the fact that your blasting a surface with potentially hazardous contaminants that are on it that will end up in the blast media and you have to ensure you verify what is being blasted off and see if its hazardous. Once you determine if your blast media is hazardous you can determine proper disposal steps.

If you want to try to reduce the amount of blast media disposal you have to deal with and are able, you can consider an abrasive blast media recovery system. An abrasive blast media recovery system inside a proper blast enclosure allows you to reuse your blast media for multiple times before it has to be disposed of. For example steel grit blast media can often be reused up to 100 times before needing disposed of (though most blast medias will not be that reusable). More on reducing abrasive blast media waste here.

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