Cedar dust

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Richard
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Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:27 pm
Location: Wales U.K.

Cedar dust

Post by Richard » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:15 am

Hi,
I have been working with wood for many years, and during that time I completed a cedar stripper. I did'nt have an extraction system but I usually wore a mask and I had no problems with dust. My latest build is a Hiawatha and after I had been hand sanding some strips I had difficulty breathing. This became worse over a period of a few weeks so I visited the doctor. The diagnosis was alergic asthma even though I have never suffered from asthma in my life. I have invested in a helmet with built in fan and filters which blows a stream of air over you face inside a visor . This helps but the doctor believes that the problem is more the vapour from the resin than the dust.
Has anyone experienced the same problem, and if so what are the best masks to wear.
All help appreciated, as having to give up building strippers would be a disaster.

Richard

Rick
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Location: Bancroft, Ontario

Post by Rick » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:15 am

There is a disease called western red cedar asthma, where sawmill workers have had breathing problems after years of exposure. IIRC, sawmill dust has also affected workers where cedar is not milled, again after long-term exposure.

I usually wear a breathing filter if the exposure to dust is going to be more than a few minutes. I used to have asthma when I was a kid, that disappeared with time and I find that brief exposure to sanding and table saw dust doesn't affect me. I am not willing to take a chance on exposure for several hours.

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Richard
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Post by Richard » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:30 am

Hi Rick,
Thanks for your rapid reply. Does your filter take out the vapour as well as the dust particles.

Richard

Rick
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Post by Rick » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:51 pm

Hi, Richard,

No, my air filter mask only filters out particles. When I used to work in a lab, I had an air mask with activated charcoal that was supposed to remove vapors.

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Glen Smith
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Post by Glen Smith » Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:16 pm

A respirator mask such as this one is the recommended thing: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx ... 42220&ap=1
except by my lung specialist who constantly reminds me that cedar dust is on the list of toxic materials to keep away from.

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pawistik
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Post by pawistik » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:19 pm

This seems like a good time and place to remind folks that activated carbon has a shelf life. The carbon in the filter binds things out of the air, which is why the filters work to protect your lungs. Unfortunately, there is no "on/off" switch and so the carbon is constantly working, even when it is sitting on a shelf and it's capacity is limited. To prolong their life, store your masks & filters in an airtight container, but even then you must change the carbon cartridges occasionally or they won't do their jobs. I don't know how often they need to be changed, but suspect that even with good storage they should be changed annually.

Cheers & Merry Christmas,
Bryan

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Richard
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Joined: Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:27 pm
Location: Wales U.K.

Cedar dust

Post by Richard » Mon Dec 22, 2008 4:28 pm

Thanks Glen and Rick,
I am becoming a bit of an asthma nerd since I started to experience the symptoms. Last night I read a 30 page paper by an asthma specialist, and it seems that once the body is sensitised by plicatic acid, a natural preservative found in Western Red Cedar you have it for life. You are advised to avoid exposure, but good quality well fitting respirators will help. Thank you for the link Glen I will see if I can buy them in the U.K.
Maybe my next build will have to be sitka spruce. I think more research will be needed during these cold wet winter evenings.
2008 has not been a good year for me 2009 can only get better.

Thanks once again and have a good Christmas.

Richard

Paddle on the Crow
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Post by Paddle on the Crow » Mon Jan 26, 2009 9:39 pm

I am a cabinetmaker by trade (Never had any problems...but also never worked with cedar much prior to building my Prospector) It took me about 9 months (on and off) to complete. About 2 months into it, I didn't really have breathing problems, but I was always "Stuffed-up" and was itchy and had rashes. Didn't put two & two together right away but remembered that Zebra wood can cause major problems with people (Even death) Needless to say soon after I completed the project and got the shop cleaned out. all symptoms went away!

POTC

Big Woody
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Post by Big Woody » Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:57 pm

The cedar dust seems to stuff up my sinuses also. So I take some antihistamine and keep on going. I used the disposable dust masks when I was creating most of the dust, but they are not fun to wear. I also seem to be affected by talc, my mom used to douse me with it as a baby.
Image
Normally I like to remain anonymous, but here is a photo of myself sanding my particle board forms. In retrospect I would use plywood. I saved maybe $10 but nearly messed up my back trying to single handedly carry the extra heavy thick particle board sheets down stairs into the basement without gouging the drywall. the stairwell has a landing half way down and then turns 180 degrees. I normally hate all things particle board. I still can't believe I bought it. I wish I'd sprung for the plywood.

Big Woody
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Post by Big Woody » Mon May 18, 2009 5:09 pm

I ended up sanding some Red Oak last night. I made clouds of dust, didn't wear a mask, and had no problem. My irritation seems to be limited to the cedar dust.

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