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  • Wood dust new information

    I got a phone call from a wood carver,.... He has been been working in wood a very long time,... but he is sick, and he wanted to know if it was possibly the wood? Does he use a mask? No.... There is a lot of new information coming out about wood and its effects on people. It really bothers me that so many wood carvers are unaware. So I thought I would post some things. If you want to add to this ....please share your experience.

    Many wood carvers live in dust filled shops with no problems, so far too many assume wood dusts pose little risk. We know hemlock, mimosa, oleander, sassafras, yew and other woods are so poisonous they can kill and cause bad nerve damage. Many irritating woods cause rashes and respiratory problems. Some woods such as cocobolo, rosewood, ebony, walnut, etc. are sensitizers meaning they can make almost anyone develop an allergy in some cases in as little as a few hours’ exposure and land you in the hospital. Power carving makes huge numbers of fine dust particles that have razor sharp edges and sharp often barbed points that damage and scar our respiratory tissues. Each exposure rarely gets noticed unless we get stuffed up or irritated, but the damage builds over time into asthma and lung damage that worsens all kinds of other age related diseases. This long term damage is why the Environmental Protection Agency sets really tough indoor air quality standards.

    Most shops that vent their dust collection systems inside build up dangerously high amounts of fine invisible dust. Woodworking makes far too much dust compared to how little it takes to harm our health. Our shop vacuums, air cleaners, dust collectors and cyclone systems miss collecting much of the unhealthiest finest dust. Wood dust lasts nearly forever unless it gets wet. So when we vent our dust collection systems inside the dust that escapes collection, known as fugitive dust keeps building and building. This dust gets launched airborne with the lightest airflows then blows all over to contaminate all shared air. Test with particle meters show even very clean looking shops that vent their dust collection systems inside build up so much fine invisible dust that just walking around without doing any woodworking stirs enough dust airborne to fail an EPA air quality test.

    Toxic woods contain chemicals that may be absorbed into the body through the skin, lungs, or digestive system and cause effects in other parts of the body. Health effects can include headaches, giddiness, weight loss, breathlessness, cramps, and irregular heartbeat. Toxic woods are typically hardwoods such as yew, teak, oleander, laburnum, and mansonia. Many hardwoods and softwoods contain chemicals that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, causing shortness of breath, dryness and soreness of the throat, sneezing, tearing and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eye). Wood dust usually collects in the nose, causing sneezing and a runny nose (rhinitis). Other observed effects include nosebleeds, an impaired sense of smell, and complete nasal blockage.

    Hypersensitivity pneumonitis appears to be triggered when small particles penetrate deeply into the lungs where they trigger an allergic response. Particles that are known or suspected to cause this condition include molds, bacteria, and the fine dust from some tropical hardwoods (BC Research, 1985). The initial effects can develop within hours or after several days following exposure and are often confused with flu or cold symptoms (headache, chills, sweating, nausea, breathlessness, and other fever symptoms). Tightness of the chest and breathlessness often occur and can be severe. With exposure over a long period of time, this condition can worsen, causing permanent damage to the lungs. The walls of the air sacs thicken and stiffen, making breathing difficult. Some diseases that have been classified as hypersensitivity pneumonitis include maple bark strippers’ disease, sequoiosis (from breathing redwood dust containing mold particles), wood trimmers’ disease, and wood-pulp workers’ disease. These diseases are caused by molds growing on the wood rather than the wood dust itself. The mold spores become airborne when wood chips are moved, lumber is trimmed, and bark is stripped.
    . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

  • #2
    Although working with wood can be hazardous you can minimize your risk by minimizing your exposure. This can be achieved by being more aware of which woods offers potential problems, substituting some woods for others, utilizing proper dust collection and filtering systems, using proper respiratory protective equipment, wearing protective clothing and thoroughly washing after exposure.
    The intent of this article is not to raise fear in working with wood but to raise awareness of some of the health issues associated with working with wood. Because of this please do not avoid working with wood, embrace it, but when you do just make sure that you are taking protective measures. Remember, wood toxicity is serious!
    Limit your exposure to wood dust by doing the following things.
    1. Use vacuum dust collection in your shop, and keep your shop ventilated with fresh air.
    2. Use protective equipment while woodworking: dust mask, goggles or a full-face respirator, and a protective barrier cream on your arms or exposed skin.
    3. Immediately after woodworking change your clothes, wash them, and take a shower. This will prevent transferring wood dust to your house where you or your family may be repeatedly exposed to it.

    . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

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    • #3
      Super information Dileon, thank you for posting. Great reminder for all.

      Tinwood

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      • #4
        I have never had a skin reaction to wood dust.....although I am sure it can happen. As the skin does adsorb the things that land on it, otherwise we would not have medicines that are topical applied. I work with exotic woods, and I do not use a barrier cream as sweating would make the situation worst?.....need some thought on that one. Anyone ideas? I do wear long sleeves even in this heat, most of time. And cover my head with tight cap and shower right after working.


        Dermatitis. There are a large number of case reports, epidemiological studies, and other data on the health effects of wood dust exposure in humans. Dermatitis caused by exposure to wood dusts is common, and can be caused either by chemical irritation, sensitization (allergic reaction), or both of these together. As many as 300 species of trees have been implicated in wood-caused dermatitis.

        The chemicals associated with allergic reactions are generally found in the inner parts of a tree, e.g., the heartwood, and the workers most prone to these reactions are those involved in secondary wood processing (e.g., carpenters, joiners, and finishers).

        The symptoms of sensitization are redness, scaling, and itching, which may progress to vesicular dermatitis and, after repeated exposures, to chronic dermatitis. The parts of the body most often affected are the hands, forearms, eyelids, face, neck, and genitals. This form of dermatitis generally appears after a few days or weeks of contact.
        . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

        Comment


        • #5
          This one ...ton of research and major questioned. I did not know but when I found out,... I try to clean out the nasal passage as often as possible. Just a little water in the nose and blowing out any dust that may get in helps. Of coarse I still need to find a mask that does not let dust in.....which has been a major issue with me.

          Occupational exposure to wood dust (alone or chemically treated) is associated with an increased risk of developing adenocarcinoma of the nasal cavity. The specific causative agents, i.e., wood dust alone (natural products), wood dust with additives used in the processing or manufacturing of wood products, and/or physical determinants of wood dust and the associated risk factors, are not known or understood. The strongest association of exposure to wood dust and development of nasal cancer is observed in those occupations where workers are exposed to hard wood dust and chemical additives are not used. The time between first occupational exposure to wood dust and the development of adenocarcinoma of the nasal cavity averages 40 years (range 7-70 years). The epidemiological data available are not sufficient to make a definitive assessment between wood dust exposure and increased risk for cancer other than nasal cancer. The toxicity, mutagenicity, and carcinogenicity of wood dust to laboratory animals or in vitro with animal or microbial cells have not been thoroughly studied. Thus there is no direct experimental evidence on the potential hazards of wood dust. Data are insufficient or lacking on 1) wood dust exposure levels in ambient air and worker's breathing zone, and the deposition in the nasal cavity; 2) hard vs. soft wood dusts; 3) particle size and shape; 4) chemical composition of wood dust and the extent of contamination with chemical additives; and 5) interaction between inhaled wood dust, chronic irritation, and tobacco smoking. These data are required so that one can understand the association between wood dust exposure and nasal cavity tumors, along with demographic differences in cancer rates, and to develop strategies for intervention and reduction of disease causing agents in order to reduce risk to wood industry workers.
          Last edited by DiLeon; 08-13-2016, 12:54 PM.
          . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

          Comment


          • #6
            Few days ago a bunch of carvers discussion about mask and what to get. But it came down to the discussion.....if it is extremely uncomfortable, do you wear it??? Then it comes down to the point of .....something is better then nothing? Here in the islands you sweat major.....the dust is sticking to it and your plastic mask is sliding all over the place, I have yet to see anyone wear it, even though it is the best. In fact most worker do not follow the safety rules of today, most do not wear mask nor take safety measures, why because they do not get sick right away....they do not add in the fact that it may take 30 or 40 years to get sick. For me.....I need a good kick in the rear end on this also. Todays study.....say be careful.
            . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

            Comment


            • #7
              As a help to flush out the nose and sinus cavity, after a carving session with power tools, you could do quick round with a NETI pot.Yes, it's a bit of a messy procedure but, as one who has sinus issues, I can attest that it really helps "clean" things up. Just another suggestion that may or may not help someone.

              Tinwood

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you, Dileon. Good information, we all need to be reminded now and then. When you have dry eyes, any wood dust can add to your discomfort and irritation. I don't know if toxic woods can cause a problems with eyes, but it wouldn't surprise me. For me, yellow pine is a wood to avoid. I was very ill for a long time. We remember things we have an immediate reaction to, but we don't think about long term, so good post!

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                • #9
                  I think I found out what is wrong with my eyes from your post sappy. I wear safety glasses which I still get dust in the eyes no matter which ones I use... I have about ten different kinds I have collected over the years but lately I have conjunctivitis that is is not cured by medicine. Been wondering what is the issue, never connected to the wood. This was in the eye post I found......

                  Direct contact with wood dust may cause irritation and inflammation. Mechanical damage of the cornea may also occur.

                  Chronic exposure, repeated or prolonged exposure, may cause conjunctivitis.

                  First Aid: Wash eyes immediately with large amounts of water, occasionally lifting upper and lower lids, until no evidence of chemical remains (approximately 15-20 minutes). Get medical attention immediately.


                  . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dileon View Post
                    I have never had a skin reaction to wood dust.....although I am sure it can happen. As the skin does adsorb the things that land on it, otherwise we would not have medicines that are topical applied. I work with exotic woods, and I do not use a barrier cream as sweating would make the situation worst?.....need some thought on that one. Anyone ideas? I do wear long sleeves even in this heat, most of time. And cover my head with tight cap and shower right after working.


                    Dermatitis. There are a large number of case reports, epidemiological studies, and other data on the health effects of wood dust exposure in humans. Dermatitis caused by exposure to wood dusts is common, and can be caused either by chemical irritation, sensitization (allergic reaction), or both of these together. As many as 300 species of trees have been implicated in wood-caused dermatitis.

                    The chemicals associated with allergic reactions are generally found in the inner parts of a tree, e.g., the heartwood, and the workers most prone to these reactions are those involved in secondary wood processing (e.g., carpenters, joiners, and finishers).

                    The symptoms of sensitization are redness, scaling, and itching, which may progress to vesicular dermatitis and, after repeated exposures, to chronic dermatitis. The parts of the body most often affected are the hands, forearms, eyelids, face, neck, and genitals. This form of dermatitis generally appears after a few days or weeks of contact.
                    I have some birch with some kind of waxy sealant on it. It makes my skin itch. I'm not sure if it's the wood, the sealer or combo of the two. It really messed my breathing up too and I was wearing a respirator. I think I took it off to soon while dust was flying a round in the air.

                    My ETSY shop:
                    https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodforddellDesigns

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wood dust is always a health concern.... I have long used the "Dust Bee Gone" mask, because it is light, comfortable and doesn't fog my glasses. It filters wood dust down to, either 3 microns or 5 microns. I can't remember which. But I also use an "in-lap" dust collector and a few years ago, I invested in an air cleaner that can be hung from the ceiling or set on a table... it has washable filters and also a very fine Hepa filter, which I just replaces with a new one, recently. The air cleaners come in different sizes and can recycle the air completely, several times an hour. But I, too, am guilty of sometimes carving without my mask. And I know that all this equipment I have, does not get all the wood dust. I also believe that if your mask is top notch, but uncomfortable to wear, you will stop using it, no matter how good your intentions were..... It's hard to be creative when you have a major distraction like an awkward or uncomfortable mask.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have my big band saw in the garage and hooked up to a shop vac but it doesnt really do a very good job, Im too cheap to buy a real dust collector but dust is my enemy. Everyone I ve talked to tell me you reallycant keep the dust down with a band saw and I have worn masks when I use the die grinders but they are so uncomfortable. I read someplace where these chain saw guys put fans up to blow the dust away from them. I mean I keeptoying with the idea of buying a dust collector but Im told that anything under 2 hp isnt worth your times. moe money

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                        • #13
                          after reading this, well I have been considering going from the shop vac to a dust collector for a long time, I went to harbor freight and bought the 2 hp dust collector now I have to finsish putting it togethoer and Im hoping for good things from it, the motor weights a ton so it has to be better than a shop vac. I originally intended to be able to vacuum up the whole garage with the shop vac setup and that didnt work, so maybe with this thing it will be more versatile. I next plan to build one of those lap downdraft thing so when I sand etc, it ends up in the dust collector rather than on me the cars the dog, you get the picture. If anyone has a 2 hp harbor freight and wishes to give me a review let me know, its a bit late since i bought it already but I cant wait to see how good/bad it really is.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by rickm View Post
                            after reading this, well I have been considering going from the shop vac to a dust collector for a long time, I went to harbor freight and bought the 2 hp dust collector now I have to finsish putting it togethoer and Im hoping for good things from it, the motor weights a ton so it has to be better than a shop vac. I originally intended to be able to vacuum up the whole garage with the shop vac setup and that didnt work, so maybe with this thing it will be more versatile. I next plan to build one of those lap downdraft thing so when I sand etc, it ends up in the dust collector rather than on me the cars the dog, you get the picture. If anyone has a 2 hp harbor freight and wishes to give me a review let me know, its a bit late since i bought it already but I cant wait to see how good/bad it really is.
                            We are in a similar position as you. Our bandsaw is out in the garage but it's hard hooking up a dust collection system to a bandsaw. They don't have any outlets for dust units to work with them but a good dust collector will certainly help. You can just direct it as close to the dust source as possible.

                            Something that will help your shop vac and dust collector big time is a dust deputy.
                            They aren't expensive but will save the motors on both your dust units. If you have two 5 gallon buckets you can get the DIY version.
                            Either way it's very worth checking out.
                            image.jpeg
                            Last edited by Spiritwolfe; 10-30-2016, 06:53 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sharon of the Dell View Post

                              I have some birch with some kind of waxy sealant on it. It makes my skin itch. I'm not sure if it's the wood, the sealer or combo of the two. It really messed my breathing up too and I was wearing a respirator. I think I took it off to soon while dust was flying a round in the air.
                              Hey Sharon. What tyoe did you get? There's some nice ones out there and I'd like to get one also. I've got my eye on the WEN model but we will see.

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