Coal Slag blasting companys colluding to harm workers by not reporting all Hazardous chemicals on M.S.D.S.


Liquid coal slag is drawn off the bottom of a coal fired boiler that makes heat to produce electricity.There are hundreds of tons of coal producing electricity every hour just in the U.S..

The left over heavy metal products from the coal, those that were too heavy to travel out of the stack are concentrated and embedded in the coal slag.  The reduction of these elements is 10:1, ten times more concentrated than a m3 (meter cubed)of unfired coal.

The hot coal slag is vitrified in water and slurried out to holding ponds, where it is dried, harvested, and screened for blasting grit  to be used as a grit agent in of other things metal finishing and paint removal.

The kinetic energy  in the act of propelling the grit onto metal removes the adhered, loose paint and corrosion from the metal surfaces. The contact with the painted metal breaks the vitrified bond not unlike shattering a glass bottle. The pieces that shatter produce particle anywhere from  the original grit size  to microscopic particles of respirable dust.

The respirable  portion of dust has the consistency of talcum powder or concrete coloring. In this broken particle is the heavy metal components exposed to the atmosphere as a Hazardous Airborne Particle, or HAP. per E.P.A. or hazardous material per OSHA.

These particles can travel many hundreds of yards to places not originally desired or intended where they settle on everything just like talcum powder. Then dew can wash particles off vegetation and then fall to the earth, where they can travel on the wind gust just like silica dusts and regular dirt.

When you blast without engineering controls to collect this dust,  the environment is being exposed. It is doubly bad when blasting without  engineering controls happens over water.When that happens you get the double whammy of air and water exposure and pollution from the heavy metals in  the blasting media and respirable dusts.

The bad actor heavy metals that are found in coal slag are arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, nickel, titanium and vanadium. Also, you have to worry about the respirable dust  content of the air around the blast point.

Several tests done by and for government  organizations have documented amounts of exposure greater than the O.S.H.A.   p.e.l. or  PERMISSIBLE EXPOSURE LIMIT, necessary  when a  material is  labeled hazardous material according to the  O.S.H.A. standards of. 1910, 1915

The end user  blast company who uses the coal slag blast media is not treating the material with the respect it truly deserves, almost wholly because the federal government  is allowing the provider company who  recycles this frit or blast grit to label it as “non hazardous, benign, inert, non toxic,or even environmentally friendly”.

Of all the company’s I surveyed not one of them listed  arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese, nickel, titanium and their m.s.d.s. sheets. The overwhelming volume of evidence is that the bad actors are there lurking under the glassy black surface  waiting to destroy paint  but also the environment and peoples lives.


The United States Government has known about this for years, and yet has taken no punitive action  to require the companies to fully disclose all components of the coal slag. While no one can be sure of the core reason that this has been allowed, I believe that the act of recycling coal slag to a cheap useful but toxic and dangerous product is the work of coal fired electrical producing companies (the original producers, and blast media providers (secondary users), who both profit tremendously for not having to deal with this portion of the waste they generate and should have to dispose of. They just shift the disposal to you and me.

PUBLIC CITIZEN, a D.C. based watch dog  group for government issues said in a letter sent  to OSHA enforcement director Thomas Galassi,

‘The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should enforce a law requiring manufacturers of coal slag abrasive to disclose that their product contains dangerous levels of beryllium”. “But coal slag manufacturers are not indicating that their product contains cancer-causing beryllium. Some companies even have the audacity to market their product as non-toxic and environmental friendly” OSHA needs to enforce the law and end this practice at once.

OSHA’s right-to-know rules require manufacturers to disclose the toxic chemicals in their products if workers might be exposed to unsafe levels. The requirement should apply to coal slag abrasive, as a number of studies have demonstrated that people working with the product are routinely exposed to levels of beryllium and other  heavy metals that exceed OSHA standards. Beryllium exposure causes lung cancer and chronic beryllium disease, a debilitating lung condition.

“OSHA’s enforcement staff has known about this issue for several years, and we are calling on them to do the right thing,” Feldman said. “Dozens of blasting workers die each year from beryllium exposure. If OSHA just enforces the rules that are already on the books, it will save lives.”

Blaster workers use coal slag abrasive to blast ship hulls, bridges and other metal structures in surface preparation for painting.

The letter is available at 

Yes it seems that recycling gets you a green pass from the government, while the companies collect your green from its manufacture. Then they get more green selling it to end user who saves the producer from disposal fees. Win-win for producers and coal slag grit repurposers. EPIC FAIL for environment and end users!

And then the end user has to shell out green for medical bills some where in the future. The little guy has to pay many times,  as usual.

How many caring and concerned company’s wanting to do the right thing and using the MSDS sheet shipped with the product as the definitive product guide are unknowingly exposing their employees to the hazardous materials  contained n the coal slag frit or blast media, honestly and trustingly using the data on the MSDS as their guide document as they should be able to do.

Only god knows.

Anywhere from one to 40,000 or more ………… I believe that its closer to 40,000.

End user company’s are being told that the coal slag blasting grit  is environmentally friendly non toxic safe alternative to sand , and will always opt for minimal protection for employees. It doesn’t make any sense to invest in expensive engineering controls or top of the line ppe for something the provider company says is safe, after all it is listed right there on the msds, and they are the subject matter experts for their product! 



The government sponsored testing has information  from the early 1990’s saying otherwise,

“Some studies have shown that coal slag has higher emissions than other commonly used abrasives in all of the size ranges. In addition, these emissions
are more toxic and can cause greater pulmonary damage and inflammation.”


Meanwhile, closer to home………..

As you imagine the backyard automotive enthusiast , a family man, blasting away in his backyard or alleyway on his beloved transportation, unsuspecting the true potential from that” harmless” and “environmental friendly” blast grit he was sold at the local auto parts store.If he knew to get a m.s.d.s. he still wouldn’t know about the bad actors, and then, the p -95 dust mask he bought cause he “knew he needed something for the dust” would not keep the ultra fine particles out of his lungs, the lungs he will be exposing until he finishes the blasting. The macho portion of the male population will just tough it out! I don’t need any sissy dust mask, I am a man!

At the end of his free time, or daylight,  he goes into his home and remove his clothes, showers, and drys off. then its chill time.

Little did he know through secondary exposure  from his clothes, the area where he blasted and the dust in the air around his home,he just exposed his family and friends to the danger.

to pull it all together for you,

In layman terms this coal slag blast media is similar to and a step down from asbestos on the ladder of severity, and thats a ladder you don’t want to climb.


View KENNETH P MATTHEWS NCCER-CSST,CSSS, E.C.P INT. F.F&E.M.T.-b's profile on LinkedIn




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