Think your small basement or garage wood shop doesn’t need a real dust collector? Sure the dust is a bit of a nuisance. It covers everything in the shop and can be a pain to clean up, but how bad can it really be? Well, how does asthma, emphysema, skin rashes, and a rare form of nasal cancer sound for starters? These are just a few of many health risks associated with exposure to common saw dust.
A blog post on dustcollectorexperts.com focused on the health issues associated with wood dust and how an effective dust collection system is the key to preventing these problems.
Plain Old Wood Dust is a Serious Health Hazard
This issue is so serious that the Department of Health and Human Services added wood dust to its official list of "known human carcinogens" and OSHA has identified wood dust as a potential health risk. Wood dust has been associated with a number of health hazards, including allergies, asthma, skin rashes, and eye, nose and throat irritation. Studies indicate that up to 13% of woodworkers are afflicted with dust-induced asthma. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are also caused by breathing in fine wood dust particles. Even a rare type of nasal cancer has also been linked to wood dust exposure. It is estimated that one third of all woodworkers experience some form of adverse health effects due to exposure to wood dust. Wood dust from table saws and other machinery send vast amounts of harmful particles into the air.
Woodworkers, by definition are do-it-yourselfers and often pride themselves on their creativity and ingenuity. Rather than installing a dedicated dust collector in their shops, many hobbyist woodworkers simply rely on shop vacs or the trusty broom and dustpan to solve their wood dust issue. These measures simply aren’t adequate. Shop vacs are not capable of handling the vast amount of dust created in a wood shop and they are not designed to capture airborne particulate. A proper dust collection system can not only spare you a dusty mess but also the eye, nose, and throat irritation that can come with it. In addition to the use of a dust collector, you should also wear a dust mask and eye protection when operating any woodworking equipment.
Good housekeeping practices can also help lower the risk of wood dust inhalation. Dry sweeping and cleaning equipment with compressed air are two of the main causes of airborne wood dust particles. Symptoms of occupational wood dust asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. These symptoms may show up within a few months of exposure or may not appear for several years. Much is dependent on the overall health of the exposed individual and the amount of wood dust they are exposed to.
The full article from dustcollectorexperts.com can be found here: http://www.dustcollectorexperts.com/blog/wood-dust-hazards/