New method for contaminant surface removal is a blast

Cross River Blasting using new technology in paint, rust removal
Mon, 04/27/2020 - 2:00pm

    In March, a Boothbay man began Cross River Blasting which uses a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-approved method for removing top layer surface contaminants in cleaning surfaces. Abrasive blasting uses maximum efficiency and requires minimal cleanup, according to owner Darren Gainer. He began the business by buying a Graco EQ2 vapor blaster for removing paint, rust and other contaminants from metal surfaces and other objects.

    Previously, dry blasting, commonly known as sand blasting, was the industry’s standard in surface preparation, according to OSHA. However, the procedure created significant dust and airborne particulates which posed a danger to workers and the public. Crystalline silica is a by-product of sandblasting. Workers who inhale these small particles are at an increased risk for developing silica-related diseases such as silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease. Two years ago, OSHA developed a final rule which lowered the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an eight-hour shift.

    So sandblasting was out and vapor blasting was in as the industry standard in surface cleaning. Gainer works as an environmental field work contractor at Portsmouth Naval Yard in Kittery and saw how vapor blasting became a better way of surface cleaning. He witnessed how vapor cleaning, using an abrasive, easily stripped paint off boats, pipes and other maritime structures at the shipyard.  “It has really changed everything. Vapor blasting uses high water pressure in removing contaminants which has also eliminated the dust particles associated with sandblasting. It also does a better job removing contaminants. It’s faster and safer.”

    This led Gainer to create a Boothbay vapor blasting business this spring. He described the Graco EQ2 as a revolutionary invention in the surface cleaning industry. “It’s like a Swiss army knife. It’s a real game changer and made me really want to get involved into this.”

    In March, Gainer began receiving final approval licenses and insurances to start the business. At the same time, COVID-19 was becoming a greater presence in daily life. While Gainer didn’t start his business with the virus in mind, the Graco EQ2 may be used to slow the virus’ spread. The vapor blaster could disinfect large objects such as boats, playground equipment, buildings and other structures.  “I don’t envision this being a big part of my business, but if you replace the abrasive with a disinfectant, you could do a substantial amount of cleaning in a short time,” he said. 

    Gainer is still waiting for state approval on lead paint removal. “This should be a big part of my business. I’m very excited about this.” Gainer’s business  is mobile so he can bring his operation right to his client’s location. 

    The Massachusetts native decided to move to Maine while working in Afghanistan. Gainer wanted a location within an hour of an airport so he could continue to work as a government consultant. “Seven years ago, I threw a dart at a map, and I’ve been here ever since. I absolutely love living here.”

    For more information about Cross River Blasting or to hire Gainer, visit