Sawdust has been coming under a lot of scrutiny as a possible health hazard and even casual woodworkers who are in frequent contact with sawdust -- breathing and/or touching it -- should consider some important facts.
Some time ago, The Vermont Lung Association (a national center for lung diseases) conducted a pulmonary function (breathing) survey among workers exposed to hardwood and pine dusts.
When the survey was completed, the results indicated that wood dust was a possible health hazard. The study concluded:
1. The prevalence of “low pulmonary flow rates” (impaired breathing) among woodworkers who were exposed to medium and high amounts of hardwood dust were two to three times higher than among persons who were not exposed.
2. The prevalence of “low pulmonary flow rates” among woodworkers who were exposed to high amounts of pine dust were two to four times higher than among those who were not.
The results of this study should be of particular concern to part-time woodworkers who already have a medical problem such as emphysema, asthma, or allergic reactions to certain woods.
There’s no doubt that the air in a home shop environment can become highly concentrated with sawdust. Under these circumstances, Dust Masks and an effective Dust Collection System can go a long way toward keeping your shop clean and pleasant -- and help make it a healthier, safer place to work, as well.
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