Even though lead-based paint has not been used for nearly four decades, many standing, inhabited structures are still covered with multiple layers of this dangerous substance. Safe removal includes protecting nearby residents from the toxic residue disturbed during the cleanup process, including unhealthy airborne dust. Sponge blasting achieves that goal without the billowing clouds, disruption and noise that accompany traditional sandblasting.
The technology is safe for use on most hard surfaces, vulnerable or easily damaged layers of substrate, and even some types of industrial equipment. Although this method is frequently compared to scouring processes using high pressure streams of water, other abrasives, or plain sand, it is a step ahead of them. While abrasives are still part of the equation, they are managed more easily, cause less damage, and little environmental harm.
The primary ingredients are tiny, water-based polyurethane fragments containing various forms of abrasive grit. They are propelled at high speed onto the cleaning surface, and the impact allows their particular chemical makeup to instantly collect and surround fragments of detritus. They actually absorb the paint or grime, which is later removed from the sponge, and disposed of in an environmentally safe manner.
There are five broad categories of these abrasives, color-coded to illustrate their particular strengths. Red sponge media is impregnated with steel grit that is the ideal consistency for slicing through many industrial coatings. Color code silver contains suspended aluminum oxide particles effective against paint and similar hard external coatings, and is also used to prepare industrial surfaces.
Brown media is designed to remove flaking coats of paint, as well as lighter industrial coverings, and can also be used to eliminate surface rust. White is often used to get rid of building graffiti, and also works well on surfaces made of fiberglass, composite materials, or tile. The lightest form is Green sponge media, used primarily to clean light contaminants such as soot and grease in hard-to-reach locations.
This method excels at suppressing nearly all the dust generated using harsher processes. Sandblasting initially costs less, primarily due to easy availability of materials. It is harder to precisely control during operations, however, and can lead to surface damage if great care is not exercised. Not only do sponges eliminate most residual dust clouds, but they also trap contaminants, and allow precision depth control.
Some forms of media can be cleaned and re-used multiple times, making them more economical through recycling. Unlike traditional methods, the machinery used to blast the particles onto cleaning surfaces is less intrusive and noisy, making it possible to complete co-located jobs without completely suspending operations in adjacent offices or apartments. It is also safer for both workers and those occupying the structure.
The final result is higher quality surface preparation, and safer emission levels. The local community greatly appreciates fewer interruptions, and contractors using this method often face fewer fines for breaking environmental regulations. When compared to other scouring methods, the setup is less involved, waste is more readily captured and safely eliminated, and the job completed both efficiently and quickly.
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