Cleaning up contaminated blasting grit permitted under strict conditions
October 31 2017. Blasting grit containing asbestos, which had been introduced into the market, was investigated by the research institute TNO on the orders of the Inspectorate SZW. Measurements showed that the contaminated blasting grit could be cleaned up safely by first making it wet and subsequently sucking it up. The Inspectorate SZW has designated the cleaning up of all blasting grit comprising raw materials originating from Ukraine to be in the lowest risk class according to the Dutch asbestos legislation, namely risk class 1. This means, that the exposure is expected to remain below the occupational exposure limit for asbestos.
This concerns all Eurogrit, or the same product sold under a different trade name (for example Excellent Grit), which has been introduced into the market since May 2015. This is because since May 2015 the product may have been contaminated with asbestos.
If businesses have any stock of unused blasting grit on their premises, then this blasting grit will be removed by Eurogrit, i.e. at locations in the Netherlands. Businesses will be provided with information about this by Eurogrit. Any used blasting grit containing asbestos should be removed from businesses as waste material containing asbestos. This removal must be carried out under strict conditions.
The Inspectorate SZW will be requesting information from a number of businesses about the manner in which used and unused blasting grit has been or will be removed. Moreover, the Inspectorate SZW or the Environmental Agencies will also be carrying out inspections at a number of locations.
The measurements taken by TNO were recorded during certain methods of cleaning up. It became apparent from the investigations that when the blasting grit was scooped up or swept in a ‘dry state’ there was a possible risk of damaging exposure due to the inhalation of asbestos fibres and particles. In order to clean up the blasting grit safely, it must first be made ‘thoroughly’ wet and subsequently preferably sucked up using an industrial vacuum cleaner. Therefore it is very important that the prescribed method of cleaning up must be carried out with great care.
When cleaning up the blasting grit, under risk class 1, the following conditions apply:
- For Dutch locations, you must report the asbestos removal work two days beforehand to the Inspectorate SZW, using the online form which can be found on the website www.inspectieszw.nl, under ‘Asbesthoudend straalgrit’ [blasting grit containing asbestos];
- Prior to the removal you must give detailed instructions to the personnel who will be carrying out this work concerning the risks of asbestos, the dust particles that can be inhaled and also the required method of working;
- Prior to the removal you must make the blasting grit ‘thoroughly’ wet, which can be achieved for example by spraying it copiously using a garden hose or a ‘sprinkler’ device. It is very important that all of the blasting grit becomes wet during this process, although the excessive use of water should be avoided so that no streams of water can escape in a flood;
- If necessary, for example when the layer of blasting grit is so thick that the underlying layers cannot immediately be dampened, then you should continue the process of spraying with water while the removal is still ongoing;
- Removal should be effected using an industrial vacuum cleaner which is fitted with a HEPA filter or otherwise a suitable vacuum sweeper;
- If for any reason circumstances prevent the subsequent sucking up of the dampened blasting grit, then you will need to clean up the blasting grit through careful scooping up and sweeping. You must continue to keep the blasting grit thoroughly wet at all times and prevent any visible dust clouds from being created.
- The personnel carrying out the work must wear a Tyvek disposable overall, which must be packed away after use in airtight packaging and removed as waste containing asbestos;
- As a precautionary measure the personnel must wear an FFP3 dust mask;
- In order to prevent the further spread of any dust, boots and/or work shoes must be washed down thoroughly with plenty of water at the side of the work area;
- You must subsequently pack the blasting grit in a double layer of strong plastic bags which carry an asbestos logo;
- The same applies to the filters contaminated with asbestos, as well as the dust bags used in the HEPA vacuum cleaners and vacuum sweepers;
- The used blasting grit which has been suitably packed up, as well as the contaminated filters and dust bags, comprise waste containing asbestos and you are required to remove these to a waste disposal site licensed for that purpose. If you do this yourself, you must ensure that you comply with the applicable waste disposal regulations and also that you are given proof of disposal. If you arrange for the grit containing asbestos, dust bags and filters to be removed by someone else, then this must be carried out by a recognised transport company;
- You must subsequently clean up your work locations, which may have become contaminated through the physical removal of the blasting grit, using wet cloths or tack cloths and these cloths must then be packed up and removed as waste containing asbestos;
- As a last step you must carry out a final visual assessment to check whether all the contaminated blasting grit has successfully been removed.