10X Engineered Materials Safety Statement:
10X Superoxalloy is produced from the by-product of mineral wool insulation, making it the industry’s most safety-tested abrasive material. No other blasting abrasive has achieved 10X superoxalloy’s validated high level of safety for people, air, water, and wildlife. None.
Safety of mineral wool and 10X’s material – What does the World Health Organization say?
Because the composition of mineral wool and superoxalloy abrasive particles are identical, blasters can feel confident that the safety of the material has been extensively studied and understood for decades. No other abrasive material has been as extensively tested, studied, and verified for safety.
The World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Agency reviewed decades of animal and human studies of long-term exposure to high air concentrations of mineral wool dust. The 2002 IARC Monograph (Volume 81) determined that mineral wool dust is bio-soluble in the lungs and is not classifiable as carcinogenic in humans (Group 3). This IARC categorization removed the material from lists of possible carcinogens everywhere in the world.
Why is this IARC categorization so important? Because it is the gold standard stamp of approval on the carcinogenicity of a material. The best way to determine whether a material is hazardous is to study its effects in living subjects from direct exposure. While these exposure studies are expensive and time-consuming, they are what authoritative bodies like IARC use to make official safety determinations. Fortunately, the mineral wool industry invested tens of millions of dollars over decades in human epidemiological studies, animal exposure studies, and laboratory studies. A working group of scientists from around the world was convened by IARC in 2001 to review this massive body of research. Their conclusions were unanimous. As a result, no regulating body in the world considers mineral wool dust to be any more hazardous than nuisance dust.
The 3 D’s of lung toxicity: Three important factors that determine lung toxicity:
Dose: How much exposure could workers face?
Superoxalloy abrasive particles are formed by rapidly cooling a molten mineral melt, which gives them high impact strength. Particle strength offers performance advantages of high working speed and very low abrasive consumption, but it also means that fewer particles shatter into dust when blasting. The dust levels are extremely low compared to competing nonmetallic abrasives. And thankfully, the human and animal studies reviewed by IARC involved exposures to dust concentrations more than six times higher than what OSHA allows.
Dimension: How do particle size and shape affect toxicity?
This part is more complicated and requires an understanding of how our lungs protect themselves. First, the upper respiratory tract is designed to filter everything but the smallest particles, less than about 10 microns. Those small particles that reach the deep gas exchange regions of the lungs are removed primarily by macrophage cells. Chronic effects and cancer occur when the macrophage cells are damaged by the dust particles. Long and thin particles like insulation fibers are even more damaging to macrophage cells than particles. The good news is that the direct exposure studies of mineral wool dust showed that neither small fibers nor small particles were toxic. Both are dissolved and removed. Dust particles like those formed during blasting are removed much more rapidly than fibers from insulation.
Duration: How long do the dust particles stay in the lungs?
When dust particles are not able to be removed by macrophage cells and other defense mechanisms in our lungs, they remain there and initiate chronic effects, lung fibrosis, and possibly cancer. Crystalline silica and asbestos are examples of durable, or bio-persistent, dust particles that are known to be human carcinogens. They kill macrophage cells and remain in the lungs for very long periods of time. They have been observed in the lungs of exposed people on autopsy decades after exposure. The dust particles from mineral wool insulation and now superoxalloy abrasives are proven not to be damaging to macrophage cells. They are soluble and able to be dissolved both inside macrophage cells and in the fluids surrounding the macrophage cells. As a result, they are rapidly cleared without causing harm.
- Man-Made Vitreous Fibres, Vol 81, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, 2002.
- McConnell et al, “Chronic Inhalation Study of Size-Separated Rock and Slag Wool Insulation Fibers in Fischer 344/N Rats,” Inhalation Toxicology, 6:6, pp 571-614, (1994).
- Castranova et al, “Critical roles of fiber length in the bioactivity and cytotoxicity of glass fibers ,” Soc. of Tox. Annual Meeting, March 20-23, 2000.
Environmental testing – environmental benefits of 10X superoxalloy abrasive
- Air: 10X abrasives are approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB)
- Water: Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Protocol (TCLP) testing shows that 10X superoxalloy abrasives are compliant with EPA regulations.
- Wildlife: 10X superoxalloy abrasives have passed Washington state environmental testing specification, publication # 80-12. Testing resulted in zero fish fatalities at 10 ppm and 100 ppm of superoxalloy abrasive in the water. (Rainier Environmental, 2021).
- Disposal: 10X superoxalloy abrasives are not regulated for disposal and are not subject to regulation as a hazardous material for shipping. Disposal should be in accordance with applicable regional, national, and local laws and regulations.
- Environmental Sustainability: 10X superoxalloy abrasives are made from a 100% recycled mineral wool material produced during manufacturing. This valuable mineral wool material might otherwise have been destined for landfill. Since entering the market, 10X Engineered Materials has recycled tens of thousands of tons of mineral wool material in its sustainable, clean-tech manufacturing facility.
What does all of this mean for you?
It means everything. Nothing is more important than your safety. Blasters and their employers can take great comfort that the hazards they’re most worried about have been tested directly in living subjects. The results have been reviewed and unanimously confirmed by the World Health Organization and many other authoritative bodies around the world. Every mineral wool manufacturer in the world took these learnings to heart and now formulates their products to be bio-soluble in the lungs. If you happen to be exposed to superoxalloy dust, you can rest assured that your lungs can handle it the same way that they handle the millions of dust particles that we inhale in each of the 17,000+ breaths we take every day.