wood dust a carcinogen

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Forum topic by jacob34 posted 12-19-2013 04:24 AM 2427 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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465 posts in 2440 days

12-19-2013 04:24 AM

I have always known from the beginning that wood dust was a bad deal, this can be proven by the fact that there are so many videos on dust collection. The fact also that hand tool proponents mention that hand tools do not make the fine dust like power machines. But I was listening to a podcast (the avidwoodworker) and while talking about dust collection he dropped that wood dust can cause cancer.

I had never heard that, in fact it took me aback and I had to do some research. I have to be honest while I haven’t had a lot of time to look I am not seeing a lot of information on dust causing cancer. Is this a “understood” part of woodworking that I am just coming to?

I have slowly been more and more moving toward hand tools and I think this definitely doesn’t hurt that. Will this result in eventually the implication of laws requiring dust collection in home shops?

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

22 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5784 posts in 2989 days

#1 posted 12-19-2013 05:19 AM

Yes, fine sawdust is classified as a carcinogen. So are most chemical solvents, coal dust etc. etc. etc. I read one study that found barbequed food caused cancer, although the study was severely flawed.

I think double protection is the best bet. Use a D.C. and wear a dust mask / respirator.
Laws are usually geared toward protecting employees of companies. If this does become more regulated, I doubt it will affect hobby shops except perhaps improved D.C. technology.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Don W's profile

Don W

18990 posts in 2743 days

#2 posted 12-19-2013 11:02 AM

read this,

Here is an excerpt:
“First, let’s look at the study. Researchers evaluated individuals who were exposed to sawdust and wood dust on the job in a sawmill. In this setting, exposure to wood dust was associated with a 50% increased risk of developing lung cancer.

These researchers also looked at people who had exposure to sawdust and wood dust as a hobby. In this setting they found no increased risk of developing lung cancer.”

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29973 posts in 2514 days

#3 posted 12-19-2013 11:14 AM

I like to wear dust masks more and more. Any fine dust that gets into your lungs can trigger cancer. Protect yourself when you are in the shop.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2286 days

#4 posted 12-19-2013 11:51 AM

Nothing at all wrong with wearing a mask if you feel better safe than sorry.

I’m a big believer in working safely, and have spent many hours and dollars finding the ear, eye, skin, and respiratory protection that works best for me, and the usage that I feel helps protect me without destroying the experience.

However, remember that the level of exposure is often key, and that level varies, depending on the irritant. Nearly everything causes cancer or illness at some level. As Don pointed out above, constant exposure to chemicals or dust in an occupational setting is far different than hobby exposure.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5143 posts in 2669 days

#5 posted 12-19-2013 12:30 PM

I would agree with the hobbyists the risk is very minimal to develop cancer from dust…but that doesn’t reduce the need for DC. The respiratory problems you can develop are not good either, and to me good DC is one of the more important things to have. Regardless, it’s hard to predict what large groups of not-so-bright people will do but I’d guess that requiring DC in a home shop isn’t anywhere on the horizon.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Tennessee's profile


2889 posts in 2690 days

#6 posted 12-19-2013 12:38 PM

For me, after 42 years of this part-time, I find that the respiratory issues are more of a concern to me than the cancer thing. The winter is the worst for me, when I cannot open my big door and have my 24” fans aiming out the door to help move those micronic (is that even a word?) fines out the door before they can slip past my dust mask. I think if I had to go to a canister mask full time I might just hang up my tools.
I do know that my Grizzly ceiling mounted dust collectors do NOT pull out the finest of fines, and if I let the filters clog, it seems to pass more. I cannot see it, but if I run them I can feel it in my sinuses in just minutes. Time to clean the filters!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View lunn's profile


215 posts in 2484 days

#7 posted 12-19-2013 02:46 PM

Planer sits in front of a 4’ door i start in from inside the shop and recieve it outside. After spending about 4 hrs running walnut thru the planer yesterday. i woke up this morning with a sinus headace, nose running etc. Must have been the cold? Afterthought i should have wore a mask, too late done. I’ll learn one of these days.

-- What started as a hobbie is now a full time JOB!

View canadianchips's profile


2609 posts in 3173 days

#8 posted 12-19-2013 03:44 PM

I am no Dr. BUT….
I am a believer that our bodies have the ability to heal and cure ourselves, we have nasal hairs that will stop dust from entering our bodies, we have immune systems that will heal invading virus and such.
With all that said, moderation. You need time to give your body time to re-heal.

With that said…...Our bodies will only absorb certain chemicals and vitamins, some pass through us, others like Vitamin A,D & E mercury, and fibers like asbestos will attach and build up within us. These may cause other issues.
Some people have reactions to some hardwoods which cause reactions as well.

I am not going to stop my hobby based on research to date !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View MalcolmLaurel's profile


298 posts in 1799 days

#9 posted 12-19-2013 05:38 PM

Anybody knows that breathing dust is bad for you, but still, it blew my mind to find this stapled to an ordinary (not even pressure treated) 2×4 that I bought in my local Lowes:

-- Malcolm Laurel -

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2214 days

#10 posted 12-19-2013 05:44 PM

That’s California – should be self explanatory. The rest of the world doesn’t classify dust as a chemical.

-- This Ad Space For Sale! Your Ad Here! Reach a targeted audience! Affordable Rates, easy financing! Contact an ad represenative today at JustJoe's Advertising Consortium.

View Planeman40's profile


1274 posts in 2937 days

#11 posted 12-19-2013 10:41 PM

Well, actually, EVERYTHING is a carcinogen. We know this because of all of the things that have been tested on white mice. But the latest find is WHITE MICE are a carcinogen. :) I remember a few years ago when Jackie (Kennedy) Onassis found she had cancer and lamented the did all of the right things. She exercised, ate healthy foods, watched her weight, etc. Why did she come down with cancer! All of this makes me just go about my business with the knowledge that eventually death is inevitable.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View dustyrusty's profile


9 posts in 2157 days

#12 posted 12-20-2013 12:30 AM

Friend of mine who does woodworking for a living developed cancer this last year. Doctor said it was from all the sawdust. Here’s a quick tip Get some “AYR” nasal gel. Put a little bit in the nose before the dusty jobs. Then you can honk your beak when your done. Seem to collect quite a bit of the bad stuff.

-- making sawdust is my hobby

View oldnovice's profile


7273 posts in 3543 days

#13 posted 12-20-2013 06:16 AM

In Illinois my shop was in the basement but sawdust was the least of my worries as we had an abundance of radon gas. The radon, along with the wood dust, are a double whammy.

Radon is present in a number of household items, including granite counter tops, and other “natural” sources but an over exposure in enclosed spaces is not healthy.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View jaydenmoorie's profile


15 posts in 1814 days

#14 posted 12-20-2013 07:02 AM

Wood dust is very dangerous for health. I use full protection while creating any object with wood. Before using my tools I always wear a dust mask because I have allergy from the dust so protection is important for me.

-- Omega Home Automation and Electrical Contractor Toronto:

View Knothead62's profile


2598 posts in 3137 days

#15 posted 12-20-2013 09:37 PM

Wear a dust mask or respirator when doing anything that products dust.
“Get some “AYR” nasal gel.” Why not Vaseline?

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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