Dangers of Wood Dust Particles

Overview

There are a number of dangers for those who work with wood. Be wary of power tool accidents, boards slipping and wood splintering. One of the biggest dangers is exposure to particles of wood dust that fill the air when wood is cut or sanded. The dangers vary depending on the wood, but the threat of this dust is nothing to sneeze at, so to speak.

Wood Dust

Wood dust is when particles of wood are thrown into the air during processes such as cutting, chipping, drilling and sanding. Wood dust is different from sawdust only in size. Wood dust literally looks like dust. It can be harmful, particularly to exposed eyes and skin, as well the lungs if inhaled.

Skin

The most common dangers to exposed skin are irritation and dermatitis. In these cases, wood dust particles may clog pores and cause itchiness. Take care to keep wood dust particles out of cuts or other open wounds.

Nose and Throat

Wood dust particles are primarily responsible for irritating the soft tissues inside the nose and throat. While a bad cough and swelling may be caused by wood dust particles, some woods have been known to cause much worse effects. Woods like European Walnut, South American Cedar and Western Red Cedar have been linked to nasal cancer in those who are regularly exposed to those wood dust particles.

Eyes and Ears

The eyes are one of the key areas to protect around wood dust particles. Since the eyes are damp, they can be irritated easily. If exposed, wash them as soon as possible to prevent reddening and further difficulties. Cover the ears as well since wood dust particles can cause infection and irritation.

Safety

To prevent wood dust particles from causing damage, properly ventilate and clean the area. A system to purify the air and suck up particles while working is is also a good idea. Workers should wear gloves, long sleeves and head coverings, as well as face masks, eye goggles and ear covers in order to keep wood dust particles out of their anatomy's sensitive areas.

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About this Author

Neal Litherland has been a professional writer since 2008. He has written for the "Valparaiso Chronicle" and "College Gentlemen Magazine" and has also released a book of poetry. He holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from Indiana University.

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