Author Topic: Managing Dust Sensitivities  (Read 2345 times)

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Offline HarveyWildes

  • Posts: 789
Managing Dust Sensitivities
« on: March 10, 2018, 11:22 AM »
Another topic on a project involving yew got me thinking about managing dust sensitivities.

To repeat, I'm finding that the older I get, the more sensitive I am to dust - seems to be causing more respiratory problems.  I'm fighting a cold at the moment whose onset coincided with a long koa sanding session, and koa is considered to be pretty benign.  The last 2 colds I had before this one have also coincided with sanding sessions with drywall and African mahogany - all in the last 6 months.

The drywall dust was created by a contractor who was working behind plastic, and I only had exposure to it coming home after the contractor has packed up for the day.  What I was breathing was very fine dust that was either in the air due to Brownian motion or was kicked up due to the normal movement of air inside a house in winter.  That said, I have a bad history with drywall dust anyway - every time I've done a drywall project myself, I've gotten a sinus infection, despite religiously using dust masks, so I don't do it myself anymore.

The two woodworking sessions were both using Festool random orbital sanders with a CT in my shop.  I've been so impressed with the sander/CT combination that I quit wearing a dust mask.  Now I'm rethinking that, and intend to start wearing a dust mask again for all sanding.  At this point I'm reminding myself that coincidence does not equate to causality, and I'm going to continue while being more cautious.  But if the pattern of sanding and then getting a cold continues I suppose that I would have to give up woodworking or radically scale down my projects, and that would really hurt.  I love woodworking as a creative outlet.

So for the rest of you, what are your experiences with dust sensitivities?  I'd be especially interested in the experiences of any of you who have started to develop sensitivities and have successfully managed them.


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Offline Dick Mahany

  • Posts: 382
Re: Managing Dust Sensitivities
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2018, 11:46 AM »
I have developed similar dust sensitivities over the years.  Even when using my dust extractor, I still have sensitivities.  I installed a recirculating air filter and it has helped somewhat, but not enough.  Several years ago I purchased a Trend Air Shield Pro and it has been a game changer that allows me to work sensitivity free while wearing it.

It does not filter chemicals however.  The only thing is that it can be a little cumbersome at times and so I skip wearing it.  I quickly get reminded to stop doing this in those instances.  I have read that developing dust sensitivities, even with less reaction-prone species is somewhat common with folks who have many years exposure to wood dust.

Edit:  I originally purchased the Trend Pro for woodturning and sanding on the lathe, but it now has a much more common use in my shop.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 11:50 AM by Dick Mahany »

Offline rst

  • Posts: 1973
Re: Managing Dust Sensitivities
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2018, 01:47 PM »
My eyes became sensitive over the years.  If I neglected to use saline immediately after or during sanding they would redup and get irritated.  I too had gone to a Trend air face mask and had started make shifting vac dust collection to my tools.  Then I discovered Festool sanders, I haven't worn the mask other than extended sessions at my chop saw.  I also wear a a full face mask spraying anymore however which is a royal pain as I'm more of a melter than sweater.  I routinely lose a 1 1/2 lb at a morning session at the Y.

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 165
Re: Managing Dust Sensitivities
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2018, 11:42 PM »
I strongly agree with Dick Mahany! If you have started to develope hypersensitivity to wood (and gypsum) dust it will only get worse unless you drastically reduce the amount of fine particulate you take in. A forced clean air mask that creates positive air pressure around your mouth and nose is definitely a big part of the answer. They are a bit bulky and do take some getting used to but they really work. I probably know ten older turners that turn a lot of exotics and they all have developed bad reactions over the years that would prohibit them from woodworking if it were not for these systems. They are pricey but it will be the best three or four hundred dollars you have spent if it keeps you healthy and happy.

Offline koenbro

  • Posts: 58
Managing Dust Sensitivities
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2018, 01:32 AM »
I'm fighting a cold at the moment whose onset coincided with a long koa sanding session, and koa is considered to be pretty benign.  The last 2 colds I had before this one have also coincided with sanding sessions with drywall and African mahogany - all in the last 6 months.

What you experience as a "cold" could be something else, eg. an asthma or COPD flare-up, or in a more severe case, an acute hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The latter can evolve into scarring, and is serious. If you develop another "cold" that is reasonably correlated with exposure, maybe consider seeing a Pulmonologist - a chest xray (or CT) and pulmonary function tests can help in the workup.

I am not familiar with the Trend Airshield but the video on the Amazon page is intriguing. I use the 3M P100 mask and am considering adding a ceiling filter, most likely the Jet unit.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2018, 02:57 PM by koenbro »
MFT/3 • TS 55 REQ • Carvex PS420 EBQ + Accessories • OF1400 + LR32 + MFS400 • Domino DF500 • ETS EC150/5 EQplus • DTS 400 REQplus • CXS • CT 26E • Fuji Q4 + 3M PPS

Offline Alanbach

  • Posts: 165
Re: Managing Dust Sensitivities
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2018, 05:27 PM »
The big difference between an air mask like the Airshield and a high quality mask like the 3M P100 is that the air mask creates significant positive air pressure on and around the face so that even if there is an issue with not having a perfect fit around the face you still won’t take in any dust because the air pressure created inside the mask won’t allow anything “to slip in around the edges”. High quality respirators like the P100 are great as long as the particulate goes into the filter. They are dependent on a proper fit and to maintain that fit at all times. In those types of masks your breathing creates negative pressure around your face so any break in the seal between the mask and your face becomes an entry point. Don’t get me wrong a high quality respirator mask is great but I am just trying to make the point that fit is more critical than with the forced air design of masks like the Airshield. Both are a huge step up from more basic paper filter masks.

Offline koenbro

  • Posts: 58
Re: Managing Dust Sensitivities
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2018, 05:21 PM »
Don’t get me wrong a high quality respirator mask is great but I am just trying to make the point that fit is more critical than with the forced air design of masks like the Airshield.

Agree, and didn't mean to dispute your point. Besides, I use Maxair's CAPR Series helmets regularly at work, and I clearly see your point about positive pressure. 
MFT/3 • TS 55 REQ • Carvex PS420 EBQ + Accessories • OF1400 + LR32 + MFS400 • Domino DF500 • ETS EC150/5 EQplus • DTS 400 REQplus • CXS • CT 26E • Fuji Q4 + 3M PPS