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Blasting is generally the most cost effective method for breaking rock. Mechanical breaking, such as ripping with big bulldozers and/or hoe ramming, can be very time consuming and costly. The cost can run as much as 5 to 10 times higher than blasting.
The end result of blasting is much more cost effective. The life of the project is shortened and inconvenience to surrounding neighbors is minimized.
The U.S. Bureau of Mines has done much research in this area and has contributed a major part of the technical data on blast design and control. Other agencies, institutions, and individual investigators have contributed to the accumulated knowledge in this area.
The current legal and recommended vibration limits result from this research. By complying with these limits and following safe blasting procedures, the risks to the surrounding area are minimized and even eliminated.
There are many reports in published findings on this subject. One good resource is the book The Effects of Vibrations and Environmental Forces, authored by Lewis L. Oriard and published by the International Society of Explosives Engineers.
Instruments called seismographs are used to accurately measure ground vibration and air blast (air over pressure).
Most blasting companies are required by law or by their insurance company to keep accurate records for each blast detonated. The analyzed seismic recordings together with the blast records can be used by consulting firms or insurance companies to predict vibration levels other than those where the recordings were taken.
In some instances, homeowners living near a blasting project will be given an opportunity to have their homes inspected before blasting starts. These inspections are generally offered as a courtesy by the company doing the blasting.
They consist of detailed descriptions of the conditions observed by the inspector such as your home. This is usually done by written documentation, photographs, video tape or by a combination of these methods.