Inhalation of silica dust is associated with pulmonary fibrosis. Therefore, substitute abrasive materials have been suggested for use in abrasive blasting operations. To date, toxicological evaluation of most substitute abrasives has been incomplete. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the pulmonary toxicity of a set of substitute abrasives (garnet, staurolite, coal slag, specular hematite, and treated sand) to that of blasting sand. Rats were exposed to blasting sand or an abrasive substitute by intratracheal instillation and pulmonary responses to exposure were monitored 4 weeks postexposure. Pulmonary damage was monitored as lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in the acellular lavage fluid. Pulmonary inflammation was evaluated from the yield of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage. The activity of alveolar macrophages was determined by measuring zymosan-stimulated chemiluminescence. Blasting sand caused lung damage and showed histologic evidence for inflammation and fibrosis. Garnet, staurolite, and treated sand exhibited toxicity and inflammation that were similar to blasting sand, while coal slag caused greater pulmonary damage and inflammation than blasting sand. In contrast, specular hematite did not significantly elevate LDH or PMN levels and did not stimulate macrophage activity 4 weeks postexposure.