Dust and health concerns

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
tybon
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Dust and health concerns

Post by tybon » Tue Nov 12, 2013 4:37 am

Do luthiers inevitably breathe in more wood dust than the average person? I try to wear dust mask when I am doing heavy sanding, but most of the time I get lazy about it. I can see the dust under the work light a lot of time. Is there health risk in the long term? i.e. respiratory problem later in life? I work in a small bedroom and have no room for a dust control system. Sometimes when I blow my nose or clear my throat I see wood dust. Is this normal?

Nick Payne
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by Nick Payne » Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:08 am

Yes, there are some diseases (eg asthma, nasal cancer) which have a substantially higher incidence amongst people who are regularly exposed to wood dust than in the general population. If you don't have room for a dust control system, there are powered respirators you can wear which filter out the dust before it reaches your airways. For example, I googled "woodworking respirator" and the first non-sponsored hit I got was this: http://www.finewoodworking.com/tool-gui ... ators.aspx.

ChristianSchwengeler
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by ChristianSchwengeler » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:03 am

It is in the statistics that wood workers die in average 10 years earlier, and this says it all. I am very careful to protect myself correctly and I have also a good ventilation system in my shop which carries away a big part of the dust. The main problem is to maintain the correct humidity level and the best is to ventilate with low humidity rate - at least in my place where climate is rather humid.

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Les Backshall
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by Les Backshall » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:35 am

Wood dust is toxic - some woods more than others; There's a lot of stuff on the web about this - here's the start of a fairly old paper about Cedar and Spruce:

The toxicity of constituents of cedar and pine woods to pulmonary epithelium.
Ayars GH, Altman LC, Frazier CE, Chi EY.
Source - Department of Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.

Abstract
Occupational exposure to cedar and pine woods and pine resin (colophony) can cause asthma and chronic lung disease. Prior studies suggest that plicatic and abietic acids are responsible for the asthmatic reactions that occur in cedar-wood and colophony workers; however, the etiologic mechanism(s) of the chronic lung disease is unknown...


It really does make sense to protect yourself as much as possible. I have acquired a strong asthmatic reaction to cedar (which is rated the most toxic of softwoods) since starting making guitars, and now wear a mask all the time when working with it, along with full workshop and machine extraction.

Les
Lester Backshall, Guitar Maker - Aylesbury UK

simonm
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by simonm » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:58 am

tybon wrote: Is there health risk in the long term? i.e. respiratory problem later in life?
Yes
tybon wrote: Sometimes when I blow my nose or clear my throat I see wood dust. Is this normal?
Yes, if you don't have dust control. :mrgreen:
tybon wrote: I work in a small bedroom and have no room for a dust control system.
As a minimum change your working methods to reduce dust.

Do anything that produces significant dust out of doors, in the garden/yard, on the terrace/balcony. Avoid woods that are known to be "nastier". Avoid sanding in favour of planing and scraping. Use knifes, chisels, gramils instead of routing. Vacuum up the dust. You can attach a domestic vacuum cleaner or a small workshop vacuum to many power tools when you use them. Don't use epoxy glues - somehow these seem to accelerate the development of wood dust allergies.

If the room is big enough to have even a single bed in it and some walk round space on one side and the end, then you do have enough space for some sort of dust control. You just have to size it accordingly and maybe make some compromises elsewhere. (I am assuming that the bed is gone and it is not being used as a bedroom at the same time). A portable vacuum cleaner attached to any power tool as you use it and sanding out of doors (but using a dust mask) will get rid of a large amount of the issue. However, if you start making significant numbers of instruments then you will have to re-think your working arrangements.

For a serious workshop a sanding table where the dust gets sucked away as you work is a great idea. There are lots of articles about dust control if you search. If you are planning a workshop in the future, plan in the dust control right from the beginning. Apart from collecting dust at machines and at a sanding table, a room air filter is another element.

p.s. ... From the way this thread is going, I think the picture should be clear... We can always dig out some more horror stories too if Les's isn't enough ....


p.p.s ...

Some info:
This guy is often mentioned on the internet. Might be a good starting point.

http://billpentz.com/woodworking/cyclon ... _risks.cfm Dust toxicity table at the bottom.
http://billpentz.com/woodworking/cyclone/dc_basics.cfm Overview of methods.
http://billpentz.com/woodworking/cyclon ... orders.cfm More.
Last edited by simonm on Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by Michael.N. » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:59 am

The more that you can minimise sanding the better. It's the fine dust that is more of a problem. Ebony dust is an evil. Scraper shavings just aren't in the same category as sanding like crazy with 120G. So if you haven't got dust control switch to hand planes and a scraper finish. It is possible to do but you really do need to get them super sharp. It's also when wood selection becomes more important. Scraping a Top with zero runout isn't much of a problem, whilst you can sand Tops with a huge amount of runout and it's easy.
Even an industrial grade face mask won't stop the dust from flying around the shop and settling everywhere. It's much better to collect the dust very near the source, which is how they do it with the power tools.
A few years ago I built a Guitar without using sandpaper apart from the back of the Neck and the heel. It turned out fine. A touch more organic than your average Guitar but all the better for it IMO. For a bedroom maker the scraper approach makes much better sense. You probably won't be able to get the Sides, Back and Top as flat as with using sandpaper but that may not be such a bad thing.
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romanticguitars
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by romanticguitars » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:48 pm

I certainly agree with Michael about the Ebony... NASTY stuff! I sanded down an ebony fret board, no, I mean I REALLY sanded down an ebony fret board, I swear that stuff was in my nose for days. Now when I order tone wood I get it within a half a mm where I want it to minimize the sanding as much as possible.
"Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart." Segovia

Aurore

Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by Aurore » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:09 pm

Wearing respiratory protection is your last step in the hierarchy of hazard control, and it likely is that the mask you are wearing is not suitable. If you are in a house that dust might also be circulated throughout depending on the system.

As mentioned above removing dust as it is produced is a better approach. Even in a tight space all you need is a small shop vac and 1 paint pail. My husband has invented an attachment to put on a off the shelf paint pail lid to turn it into a dust collection system to use with a shop vacuum, any size

Youtube
The demo has 2 pails to show what is collected and what is left in the vacuum (the 2nd pail).

There are also other commercially available separators http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/ ... -shootout/ a bit long but explains it and loads of yt videos of people making their own.

tybon
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by tybon » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:15 am

I do have a shop vac and it's attached to my bandsaw and I can also attach to my power sander. So I guess I do have a dust control system, just not a fancy one. There is still significant amount of dust in the air during sanding, especially when sanding by hand. And I still feel like I'm inhaling dust even when wearing a dust mask. Looks like I need to minimizehe amount of sanding and batch sanding tasks as much as possible.

How about a box fan with strapped on furnace filter? Anyone use it?

This is what my bedroom workshop looks like:

Image

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Les Backshall
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by Les Backshall » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:39 am

If you have the funds, get an air filter, which will completely turn round the air in a room your size every half an hour or so.
I have mine running all the time I'm in the workshop.
jet310483.jpg
Les
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ChristianSchwengeler
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by ChristianSchwengeler » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:01 am

Aurore wrote: My husband has invented an attachment to put on a off the shelf paint pail lid to turn it into a dust collection system to use with a shop vacuum, any size
Thank you for posting this. This is a very interesting attachment. I have seen vortex dust separation in industrial systems and I find it amazing to see this device when you consider the possibilities.

Robert England
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by Robert England » Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:55 pm

Hi Tybon,
From your picture, it looks like your bedroom is larger than my workshop! An item that would help to clear dust generally out of the room air, and help to protect the rest of your house, without taking up much room, is the Shop Fox W1746 Fine Air Filter. Do an Internet search to find it. This filter can sit on the floor, even in a corner, and is only 23x18x10 inches in size. It removes very fine particulates, is quiet, and moves a fair bit of air. I have two of these running all the time in my shop. These are very helpful, but no substitute for a good "N95" rated dust mask when you are generating dust right under your nose.
Robert

tybon
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by tybon » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:55 pm

Robert England wrote:Hi Tybon,
From your picture, it looks like your bedroom is larger than my workshop! An item that would help to clear dust generally out of the room air, and help to protect the rest of your house, without taking up much room, is the Shop Fox W1746 Fine Air Filter. Do an Internet search to find it. This filter can sit on the floor, even in a corner, and is only 23x18x10 inches in size. It removes very fine particulates, is quiet, and moves a fair bit of air. I have two of these running all the time in my shop. These are very helpful, but no substitute for a good "N95" rated dust mask when you are generating dust right under your nose.
Robert
Hi Robert,

My room is only 10'x8' and barely has enough space for me to move around with all that stuff in there. I will look into getting an air filter. My main concern is the dust that immediately gets up in my face when I'm actively sanding by hand. I also have the habit of reaching for the sandpaper very frequently and do a few swipes here and there so I may have to break that habit...

simonm
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by simonm » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:33 pm

tybon wrote: My room is only 10'x8' and barely has enough space for me to move around with all that stuff in there....
I don't have "a room" -- my workbench is behind the sofa in the living room. :mrgreen:

tybon
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Re: Dust and health concerns

Post by tybon » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:45 pm

Just a quick update. I got the Shop Fox W1830 a few weeks ago. I have started to do some heavy sanding and I can feel a big difference. There is a nice breeze in the room and I can see the dust flowing towards the filter, which is already quite dirty now. I have more peace of mind now when working. I should got it earlier!
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