Woodworkers susceptible to pneumothorax (collapsed lung)?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Safety in the Woodworking Shop forum

Forum topic by Underdog posted 03-11-2015 06:16 PM 2007 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Underdog's profile


1207 posts in 2211 days

03-11-2015 06:16 PM

Tell me what you know about woodworkers being susceptible to pneumothorax (AKA collapsed lung)?

I spent the last week in the hospital getting my lung pumped back up. Not what I had planned for the week. Easily the most strange thing I ever had happen to me… And those drugs they knock you out with will send you on the wildest trip imaginable. Ever see the movie “TRON”? It was like being in that movie… Ribs still recovering from the drain tube insertion. Ow. Praying, please God NO, on the relapse, as it means full blown surgery. I DO NOT WANT!

I do some woodturning and carving at home, work in a cabinet shop (tech guy- so mostly office work and machine setup/repair). I occasionally am in contact with finishing supplies (lacquer and thinner) without a filter. The last thing I was doing was fixing our edgebander and cleaning out the glue pot with lacquer thinner… so I’m sorta wondering about the thinner…

Before you ask, no, there was no injury, and no known underlying conditions. I don’t smoke or drink. I AM 6’2”, and relatively thin (could lose 25 pounds though). I found out the height automatically makes me susceptible to a collapsed lung.

Any trained medical specialists that can shed light on the subject?

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

10 replies so far

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2182 days

#1 posted 03-11-2015 07:02 PM

I’ve just recently started turning, and when sanding bowls on the lathe, the dust is starting to bother me a bit.

”I found out the height automatically makes me susceptible to a collapsed lung.”
Whoa, wait, WHAT? I’m 6’2” .... do I need to be worried just because of how TALL I am???
Glad to hear you’re gonna be ok, sorry you had to go thru all that. When I had triple by-pass (May 2004) the WORST pain of all that was when he pulled the drain tubes out. I wouldn’t wish that on ANYbody!

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Manitario's profile


2654 posts in 3058 days

#2 posted 03-11-2015 07:08 PM

I’m an ER doctor, I routinely see patients with spontaneous pneumothorax. I’ve seen them in young people, old people, healthy people, sick people etc. Only 2 risk factors that I am aware of are tall, thin people seem to be more susceptible to them; and people with COPD. No link that I’ve heard of between woodworking and pneumothorax unless you count the increased risk of COPD from the dust exposure. Unlikely to be a factor in your case though.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View BJODay's profile


527 posts in 2118 days

#3 posted 03-11-2015 07:13 PM

I haven’t heard of woodworking increasing the risk of pneumothorax. I know that having underlying lung disease can increase risk, (COPD). If dust has damaged your lungs it probably would have already been evident with difficulty breathing.

The higher risk because of height is a reference to Marfan’s syndrome. There is much more to it than just being tall.


View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2182 days

#4 posted 03-11-2015 07:30 PM

I’m 6’2” tall, but THIN – I aint! :-)
Unless you count 250lbs as thin!
WHEW! Dodged a bullet on this one! :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Underdog's profile


1207 posts in 2211 days

#5 posted 03-11-2015 08:13 PM

According to several medical websites, being tall and thin is a factor. Here’s one of them:

Yeah, Joe, apparently because of the shape of our lungs or chest cavity, blebs (air blisters) will form, then spontaneously pop (cough, sneeze, or…?) then the lung will collapse. I’m 230 pounds, so I’m not really that thin, but it still happened. I’m also above the normal age (20-40).

Also, a nurse I know ran across the fact that woodworkers are more at risk for some reason. I have to assume it’s because of an underlying condition brought about by sawdust inhalation though… Still waiting on that information.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1397 days

#6 posted 03-11-2015 10:09 PM

I don’t suppose you’ve had pneumonia? If so more than once? What about an infection that may have drained into your chest cavity? A leaking of air into the chest cavity usually due to a puncture blunt force trauma lends to fluid. Did you get Dizzy or black out and drop to the floor or were you able get low on your own power.

-- I meant to do that!

View jsuede's profile


69 posts in 1399 days

#7 posted 03-12-2015 03:28 AM

A tall and thin friend of mine had that condition when he was in his early 20’s. Active, not exposed to any known or unreasonable VOC’s or dust.

View TheFridge's profile


10502 posts in 1661 days

#8 posted 03-12-2015 03:42 AM

I’ve had 2. The first one 75% collapsed and the second 25%. The first one sucked horribly but the Demerol was awesome.

This was way before I started woodworking. They told me the same thing. I’m tall, skinny, young, and ginger. Which apparently is worst combination. I think they were lying about the ginger part, but not possessing a soul, I don’t think I really care.

Edit: the chest tube for the 1st one was excruciating. Luckily, my mom knew the ER nurse and he gave me as much juice as he could before he cut me.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Underdog's profile


1207 posts in 2211 days

#9 posted 03-12-2015 01:22 PM

Pneumonia? Blunt Force Trauma? Infection?

Did you even read the article, or anything I wrote?

I think I would have recognized blunt force trauma, pneumonia, or infection. If not, the ER doctors certainly would have….

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1406 days

#10 posted 03-12-2015 01:29 PM

For what it matters I have heard that cocobola dust wont break down like others and can cause lung issues. But it doesnt sound like that was a factor.

Hate to hear about the stay at the hospital. I hate that place.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics