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Wood dust and safety of spouses

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Alan Jurgens, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. Alan Jurgens

    Alan Jurgens

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    Location (City & State):
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    This post may have been exhausted previously in this forum but I haven't been able to find the info to address my concerns, as yet. My concern is wood dust and the how this affects my spouse. My shop occupies one of three car bays and is walled off from the other two. I have a door to our back yard and a garage door. I will admit that my shop is not always clean and tidy. This past year my wife has developed a chronic cough and though we suspect environmental allergies I am beginning to suspect wood dust as the culprit. My question for the forum members is what you all may be doing in your shops both for your own safety and the safety of exposing your spouses or other family members to shop dust. Do you freely go in and out of your shops into your homes? The best examples I can think of is to use the bathroom or to have a lunch break. I would assume that most of us attempt to knock off the dust we see, but most likely it is impossible to completely eliminate it. I do wear an apron. I have a ceiling mounted dust filter and I also use a Laguna mobile dust collector that gets attached to the various machines in my shop. For my own personal protection I have an air filter mounted in my face shield and I also have a floor box fan, which when the weather is warmer I turn it on and open a door to help to eliminate wood dust. I have also recently placed a dust particle counter in the shop, which I occasionally turn on when I am working. When the weather does not permit the doors to be open it indicates poor air quality, but a few hours after I leave the shop the air quality goes back to excellent range. During warm weather I open doors and run a fan, which allows good air quality. I apologize if my questions are self evident to you, but I don't have the sensitivity to the wood dust that my wife may have and if I am violating a basic tenet of shop safety I wood like to correct it.
     
  2. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    My shop is a separate building from the house but I do go in and out of the house some during the day. I know my wife can smell wet wood odors on me, or chemical smells like mineral spirits or danish oil, that I don't smell. Easy to get smell deaf when you're in it all day. If I turn a big wet oak log she can smell it the minute I walk into the back door. My routine is to take my air hose and blow off my upper body, legs, arms, top of my head, etc thoroughly before I go in and I don't wear my outdoor shoes into the house. Easy to track in debris. All that said, folks can have very different reactions to things and different reactions to different woods. If you just brush yourself off you would be amazed at how much more dust and debris you see if you hit your shirt or pants with an air hose in the sunlight.
     
  3. Mark Jundanian

    Mark Jundanian

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    Location (City & State):
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    Pretty much what you do, Alan. My shop is in the basement. In the good weather I run a window fan and open windows. In the cold weather I run a Jet air filter. Whenever I do sanding and most of the time when I turn I run the 3HP DC. I wear a PAPR. I vacuum up every now and again, and the vac is supposed to have a HEPA filter. I wear a smock which I usually remove if going up stairs and blow off the bottoms of my shoes.

    I think that's a normal amount of precaution. But that said, my spouse isn't coughing, so that might not help you much.

    Is the coughing worse for your spouse in the garage? Your shop? When you come in the house?

    Short of changing clothes I'm not sure what more you could do to keep dust out of the house. Perhaps you could find or someone could make you a lab coat length smock (or just get a lab coat and shorten the sleeves) that would keep more of the sawdust off you.
     
  4. Steve Tiedman

    Steve Tiedman

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    Location (City & State):
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    My protocol is to capture as much dust as possible at the sourse- a dust collector hood sits inches behind the spinning wood, and if the lathe is on, the collector runs. Chips can fall to the floor but I want to grab airborne dust. The collector also uses twin high efficiency filter bags replacing the stockers. I have vac attachments on the band saw, chop saw and table saw. I even attach the vac to my hand held power sanders.

    I do not use compressed air to clean my clothing or equipment. Shop Vac only, fitted with a goretex Cleanstream filter. Sending airborne dust that has settled on me and the tools back into the air just makes no sense- blowing dust off one thing only sends it to another, that's not cleaning. I give myself a head to toe vacuuming when I'm leaving the detached garage workshop for the house. My wife has mild/moderate asthma so I do what I can to keep the dust away from her.

    Best wishes for your wife's health.

    Steve.
     
  5. Doug Freeman

    Doug Freeman

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    Location (City & State):
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    My pure guess is its either plant or other environmental or maybe a particular wood - turned any new types of wood when this started? No new pets or friend’s pets? Might be worthwhile for her to get an allergy test done. Maybe segregate your shop clothes for laundry time, maybe the pocket and other dust gets her.

    My wife developed a persistent cough a few years ago. I dont do much ww in the warmer months and she still has it, so in her case it isnt wood or dust.
     
  6. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Do you turn a lot of exotics? Some wood species are sensitizers and allergies start because of extended use. The phrase that there are two kinds of woodworker's around cocobolo. The ones that are allergic, and those who will be. It would be easy for you to slip a Tyvek suit on and off when you come and go. I don't know if they are in short supply because of the pandemic or not. A airlock at the door wouldn't be that hard to do. Something with a pretty big fan to create a negative pressure as you slip off the Tyvek and a pad that attracts the dust off your shoes. Even changing shoes would be a good idea. The super fine particles are the health hazard. The particles that go into the lungs and then the blood stream. http://billpentz.com/woodworking/cyclone/medical_risks.php
     
  7. Randy Anderson

    Randy Anderson

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    Clarification - I step outside with my mask on to blow the dust and chips off myself.
     
  8. Alan Jurgens

    Alan Jurgens

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
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    Location (City & State):
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    Thank you all for your responses. I also blow off the dust with my air compressor, but, as Steve suggests this may not be the most prudent thing to do. We are also seriously considering having allergy tests done. I recall when when I was at Marc Adams school he said there was a student who was so sensitive to some of the exotic woods that as soon as he entered the school from the far corner of the building he would react to any exotic wood dust from the lathe shop. This shop was connected to the main building, but in a separate contained building, many yards away. I think all they could do in that situation was screen those with allergies. Again, many great thoughts from you all and as I said I do tend to follow these ideas, except when I become complacent. I have determined to become more vigilant with good habits.
     
  9. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    So are you turning exotics?
     
  10. Lamar Wright

    Lamar Wright

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    I agree with Steve..........I try to catch the dust at the source or at least as much as I can.
     
  11. Rob Fridenberg

    Rob Fridenberg

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    Not only catch the dust but have the proper filters to get the fine stuff. The 1 micron cloth bags/paper filters are not doing your lungs any favors - they are dispersing the fine particles that you can't see into the air where they remain for hours. Using an air blow gun in a wood shop is not good either.

    Read the Bill Pentz article - and then decide what is right for you. Even if it is not the root cause of your wife's problems now - it can become a problem in the future.
     
  12. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Don't have room or budget for a dust collector. My wife watched HGTV and saw this- box fan, furnace filter and bungee cord. I turn it on high when working and let it run for at least an hour after I leave the shop. Surprising what it takes out of the air. I closed in the "garage" in the basement several years ago so dust is confined to a small space. Next, I would have the wife checked for allergies. Get the results and go from there.
    Alan's reply tells me that the student wasn't exposed to exotics before, hence, the reaction at the school. I've had allergies since 1969. Never had then before.

    Reminds me of the sign in the gift shop- Our kids were allergic to the dog so we got rid of the kids.
     
  13. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Location (City & State):
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    There are domestic woods (redwood and 'cedar') that can cause an asthma like response, which could present as a persistent cough. Presumably the exotic sensitizers could as well. The causes of persistent cough are extremely varied, some are easily treated and some are scary. Surprisingly, one of the most common is acid reflux, which can occur without any sense of heart burn. It sounds like she's got an evaluation going and I hope she persists with it until she gets an answer. It can be frustrating.

    In bygone days, what is today called a mudroom was common in homes of miners and industrial workers. Dad would come home from work and take off his outer clothes in the back hall and head straight to a bath or shower. Perhaps hosing off with the air compressor and then removing everything down to the underwear prior to going into the main house would be helpful. Or even having a separate set of clothes just for the shop and keeping your regular clothes in a garment bag to change into prior to coming into the house. Lot of work, but she's worth it.
     
  14. Roger Wiegand

    Roger Wiegand

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    Do as most of my woodworking acquaintances in Britain do and wear a coverall that you can take off when leaving the shop area. Plus all the other suggestions here-- collection at the source, before it gets out into the shop and onto your clothing is by far the most effective course.
     
  15. Dave Fritz

    Dave Fritz

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
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    Location (City & State):
    Montfort, Wisconsin
    Both my wife and I have allergies. We recently bought an air purifier and have that in our main room. It's amazing to watch the light change and the motor run faster at times when obviously there's some pollutant in the air. The biggest culprit is cooking on the stove top, esp. without the exhaust fan on. It has helped both of us and we're considering a furnace ad on air purification system in addition to the hot air exchange system we already have installed. Having said all that when I come in from the shop (garage) for lunch the air purification doesn't change any. Interesting topic, I'll follow closely.
     

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