Toxic dust (Full Version)

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NorCalluthier -> Toxic dust (Apr. 12 2019 18:21:38)

Hello All,

In looking up Manuel de la Chica's name to see for sure how to spell it, a short bio of him was available on the GSI website. Apparently he had to quit making guitars because of the dust's ruining his health. If I'm properly informed, that happened to Marcelo Barbero and his son as well---and who knows how many others.

I lost a month's work due to inhaling some fine cypress dust. All I had strength to do was to sit at the computer, and research dust control. The most important thing I learned was that a shop-vac inside the shop is nothing more than a fine dust concentrator, and the fine dust is the worst stuff for your lungs. The filters in the vacuums are not perfect in the first place, and they soon get perforated by chips from routers, table saws etc.

My solution was to re-locate a couple of Sears 6.5 hp shop vacs outside the back wall of my shop, and run shop-vac pipe under the floor and up into the shop---got rid of the noise too. I have the great good fortune of living in a very mild coastal climate, so the loss of heat during the winter is not a problem for me.

So, "Be ye informed!" Part of the reason that I chose lutherie as a life's work is that I figured I could do it until I went out of my shop feet first. I'm not planning on doing that until I'm well into my nineties (;->)...



JasonM -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 12 2019 18:35:13)

Interesting. How were you down for a month from inhaling cypress? We’re you having respiratory issues or were you over sensitive to the dust at that point?

Kind of ironic, but I used to smoke and I quit after working in a wood shop. All the dust made me feel like I had smoked 2 packs of cigarettes and it took all the enjoyment out of it. So that’s a good thing but also a bad thing considering how much dust there was.

Instead of the shop vacs, have you looked into getting an exhaust fan or dust collector? Harbor freight has some good deals. Also a very effective dust remover is to use boxfans and hvac filters. They work just as good as the commercial ones

RobF -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 12 2019 21:57:15)

I found my shop-vac was just filtering the big stuff and blowing craploads of dust out its exhaust, so I bolted an Oneida cyclone onto it and put a Hepa filter inside. It made an enormous difference. I have two hepa filters that I clean and rotate out every time I empty the cyclone bucket.

I also run a bigger extractor off my thickness sander, an air cleaner whenever any sanding is going on, and I try to always wear a dust mask, even for minor sanding chores. Any palm sanding is done with the sander hooked up to the shop-vac. I’m sure even with all that my system is just fair to middling and could be improved. I used to smoke but it’s been over ten years since I quit and I don’t want to take any more chances. I’ve done enough self damage as it is, IMO.

Andy Culpepper -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 12 2019 23:44:22)

I use a Shop Vac with high efficiency filter bags and an air filtration system mounted on the ceiling, but nothing beats simply wearing a decent respirator mask. I'm pretty religious about putting mine on any time I'm making any kind of dust whatsoever.

NorCalluthier -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 13 2019 0:47:21)

Hello Andy,

I agree that a dust mask is the best way to go. Here is a link to the mask that I like best. The N99 2315 is the one I use. If you go to the link, there is a box to click for a free sample.

I get about 6 weeks use out of a mask before it gets so scungy that I pitch it. They are so comfortable that I can wear them for hours and hardly notice them.



constructordeguitarras -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 13 2019 4:06:52)

I have found that not only cypress dust but vaporized cypress resin also makes me sick, so I wear a fancy respirator--with cartridges, that was made for spray finishing and things like that--when bending sides and machine sanding. That keeps me safe but the whole workshop in my cellar gets filled with the vapor and it gets upstairs too and takes a day to go away.

NorCalluthier -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 13 2019 14:08:54)

Hello Jason,

To answer your question about cypress. I was careless and didn't wear a dust mask while doing some hand sanding of cypress with fine paper. As a result I got the sore throat from Hell for four days---same as I used to get from walnut dust. The only thing that would relieve it temporarily was Laphroaig single malt Scotch taken "neat"---that was back in the days when I could drink.

The sore throat was followed by the cold from Hell, that put me out of commission for three weeks---I go for years without ever having so much as the sniffles. The whole thing turned out to be a wake-up call, and I've been a good boy ever since---mostly (;->)...



Doffkowitz -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 13 2019 15:44:01)

As a Head&Neck pathologist I have to warn all the luthiers for the risk of working unprotected with wood dust. There is a relationship between cumulative exposure to wood dust (esp. soft wood dust) and a specific type of cancer of the nasopharynx esp. nasal adenocarcinoma. For illustration a link to a PubMed about this relationship:

So guys, don't work unprotected with wood dust.

JasonM -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 13 2019 19:09:48)

I can’t read the PubMed article. Over how long were the subjects exposed to dust?

kitarist -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 13 2019 19:44:58)



I can’t read the PubMed article. Over how long were the subjects exposed to dust?

Link to free pdf :

Since this is statistical study using census data, it should be read more like it is about increased risks by profession.

The way they calculate cumulative exposure is as follows:

Take the proportion of workers in a profession who have annual exposure to wood dust which is at least 0.1mg/m^3 on average, over their entire work life, and multiply that by the number of years this went on.

So if you want to roughly try to figure out something, you would have to come up with (A) annual mean wood dust concentration (mg wood dust per cubic metre) average for the entire work period, and (B) years working, and multiply A and B.

A*B is what they display in the second column e.g. with 28.82 or more for "High" cumulative exposure. The way to read the Hazard ratio is that they take the ratio of Cases:Controls for "No exposure", call it "1", and then check how many times higher is the ratio by exposure category, compared to that of "no exposure". Oh, these are incidences after a 10-yr latent period.

For example, for the high category, a hazard ratio of 28.86 means the nasal adenocarcinoma cancer is 28.86 times more frequent in that category than in the "no exposure" category.

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sartorius -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 14 2019 15:57:31)

I've just learned my uncle Joseph has lung cancer. Both lungs, no surgery possible. We have always seen him playing around with wood and tools without any kind of protection...

As to guitar making, every builder knows that Cedar dust is the worst of all.

NorCalluthier -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 14 2019 16:27:01)

Hello All,

Our California cypress is good for 15 years "in contact with the soil", so a lot of it ends up as fence posts. Imagine what a collection of insecticides it has evolved over the millenia!

I would say that the tropical hardwoods like rosewood and ebony are right up there with the cedars in toxicity---cocobolo is so notorious that I won't have it in the shop.

The Moldex dust mask that I gave the link to in a previous post is an,"N-99", which replaces the "N-95" that I used to use. I'm not sure what the numbers mean, except that the N-99 is better.



JasonM -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 16 2019 14:11:58)

Thanks for the helpful explanation Konstantine

kitarist -> RE: Toxic dust (Apr. 17 2019 5:28:46)



Thanks for the helpful explanation Konstantine

You are welcome. I wouldn't put too much weight on the particular numbers. If you plot this it seems it indicates a 1:1 increase in risk with this wood dust exposure indicator. Which can be interpreted as linear increase in risk with the number of years of (relatively constant) exposure to wood dust.

Cervantes -> RE: Toxic dust (May 7 2019 3:17:50)



I found my shop-vac was just filtering the big stuff and blowing craploads of dust out its exhaust, so I bolted an Oneida cyclone onto it and put a Hepa filter inside. It made an enormous difference. I have two hepa filters that I clean and rotate out every time I empty the cyclone bucket.

+1 I did the exact same thing.
I don't build guitars (yet) but do a fair amount of woodworking.
I also wear a 3M respirator mask and work in a garage that is open so dust tends to just flow through. It still worries me but no problems yet.

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