If you work with wood regularly or even as an occasional hobby, it would behoove you to incorporate some basic safety practices into your routine (see Parts 1 & 2). This will help you to avoid the devastating potential effects of wood dust toxicity, severe allergic reactions, and more.
So what are some of these common-sense solutions? This will be the topic of our last article in this series.
Proper Ventilation Encourages Healthy Respiration
While it’s true that tropical hardwoods and other dense species pose a greater risk of wood dust toxicity, that’s no reason to completely avoid working with these woods. Their density makes them an extremely practical and valuable building material. If you do choose to work with these or any other types of wood, make sure to work in a well-ventilated workspace. This is the first step to preventing wood dust toxicity.
Dust Collection, Air Cleaning, and Circulation are Critical
If you work with wood on a regular basis, invest in some equipment that will help keep toxic wood dust particles out of the air inside your shop. These would include a wood dust collection machine. A quality machine will show the amount of dust that’s being collected so you can have peace of mind about the quality of the air you’re breathing.
Along with a dust collector, make sure you have an air cleaner that includes an air circulation feature. This will help keep the airflow moving to hopefully get rid of some of the small particles that the dust collector fails to remove from the air.
Always Wear a Respirator
This point can’t be stressed enough. For just a small amount of money, you can provide yourself with some of the best possible protection available when it comes to preventing the inhalation of tiny toxic wood dust particles. Many woodworkers already wear these handy devices when they apply finish to the wood. There’s no reason not to put your respirator on throughout the cutting, drilling, and sanding process as well.
Wear Protective Clothing
If you’re susceptible to skin rashes due to wood oil or chemical allergies, simply put on a pair of protective gloves. You can also wear long pants and long sleeves each time you’re working with a species of wood that causes you irritation.
The more dense, oily, and weather/insect resistant a species of wood is, the more you’ll need to be careful to avoid wood dust toxicity and allergen triggers. Each time you’re exposed to a new wood species, be careful as you never know how you or the other workers in your shop will react. Each person should take precautions to prevent woodworking hazards.
This isn’t a matter to take lightly, as the risks are real. If anyone you know is skeptical about the reality of wood dust toxicity, perhaps showing them this article series would help them to see that it’s not something to ignore. Once the proper measures have been taken to avoid potential harm, you can rest assured that you’re doing your part to provide yourself and those in your shop with a safe, pleasant woodworking environment.