Abrasive blasting agents: designing studies to evaluate relative risk

J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2005 Jun;68(11-12):999-1016. doi: 10.1080/15287390590912612.


Workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica used in abrasive blasting are at increased risk of developing a debilitating and often fatal fibrotic lung disease called silicosis. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that silica sand be prohibited as abrasive blasting material and that less hazardous materials be used in blasting operations. However, data are needed on the relative risks associated with exposure to abrasive blasting materials other than silica. NIOSH has completed acute studies in rats (Hubbs et al., 2001; Porter et al., 2002). To provide dose-response data applicable to making recommendation for occupational exposure limits, NIOSH has collaborated with the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to design longer term studies with silica substitutes. For risk assessment purposes, selected doses will include concentrations that are relevant to human exposures. Rat lung burdens achieved should be comparable to those estimated in humans with working lifetime exposures, even if this results in "overloading" doses in rats. To quantify both dose and response, retained particle burdens in the lungs and lung-associated lymph nodes will be measured, as well as biochemical and pathological indices of pulmonary response. This design will facilitate assessment of the pulmonary fibrogenic potential of inhaled abrasive blasting agents at occupationally relevant concentrations.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coal
  • Construction Materials / toxicity*
  • Crystallization
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dust
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology
  • Silicon Dioxide / toxicity*
  • Silicosis / prevention & control
  • Steel


  • Coal
  • Dust
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Steel
  • ferric oxide
  • Silicon Dioxide