Can Wood Make You Sick?
We all know that sawdust and fine airborne dust particles don't just clutter up your workshop; they are also health hazards.
We tend to think of distant consequences, such as respiratory problems in old age. But there are often immediate effects.
We hope you enjoy watching this video about working with an exotic and dangerous wood
Find out what types of wood can make you sick when working with it!
It's not just about dust. The oils and compounds in wood cause adverse reactions and people can become sensitive to a particular species.
It is impossible to predict who will be susceptible to which wood. Reactions range from mild to severe and can be immediate or increase over time.
Many species of wood are known sensitizers, but some are worse than others. Yew, for example, is totally toxic. Other known sensitizers include common species such as oak, cedar, birch, walnut, and fir, which are mixed in with most wooden building boxes.
Various sites, such as wood-database.com, list woods that have a reputation for raising awareness.
I know several professional cabinetmakers who have gone through awareness-raising and sadly I have my own experience. When I was a young cabinetmaker, I worked in a small shop in the basement of my boss's house. There was little or no ventilation and we rarely wore dust masks.
We work a lot with an impressive African wood called padauk, which did me no harm at the time.
Twenty-five years later, I was hired to build a project using padauk. After making a tear in the table saw, I started to feel it: runny nose, watery eyes.
For the next five minutes, I felt short of breath and general malaise. I quickly closed the store and went home for the day.
My clothes and I needed a good wash before I felt better. Working with padauk is no longer fun!
He still had the project to finish, which meant he needed long sleeves, nitrile gloves, a filter mask, and goggles.
So if you want to continue your favorite hobby, take precautions now: wear a dust mask, use a dust collector, and install an air filter. If you had taken these precautions in those early years, you probably would not have developed this sensitivity.
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