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Thread: wood dust allergy

  1. #1
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default wood dust allergy

    I am working on an old Harmony Patrician. It is missing most of the block inlays on the fingerboard. Monday evening I was using a Dremel with router base to deepen the space to match the new inlay blocks. Tues. morning I could barely open my eyes, itching and light sensitivity was the issue. I took an Allegra D and 2 hours later I was functional.
    I made the mistake of not wearing a mask. I will when I start up again with the project.

    Any other wood dust allergy stories?
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Yes I have had issues with some pines and teak.
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    Registered User Jim Adwell's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Black walnut can make my eyes water and throat tickle.

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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    There is a thread here: http://www.projectguitar.com/topic/18098-wood-toxicity/ that has a lot of useful information.

  5. #5
    Registered User barry k's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    I made several emergency room visits for allergies from cocobolo and rosewood.....hives and throat closure...shots of adrenaline saves the day....BK

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    Registered User Rob Grant's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    The local timber Cooktown Ironwood aka: "Red Ebony" has been known to cause some pretty severe reactions to the dust. Cooktown Ironwood is a member of the family Leguminosae which contains not only many edible, but also quite a few extremely toxic members.

    Back in the late 1800s camels were used to pack various ores from the mines to the smelters up here in far northern Queensland. It seems the camels couldn't resist the lush green leaves of the Cooktown Ironwood trees in a country side normally void of green in the dry winters. Unless muzzled, a stomach full of Cooktown leaves left the packers with a string of dead and dying camels.
    Rob Grant
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  7. #7

    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    The person I buy a lot of my redwood from has been cutting and milling redwood lumber for years. For several years now hooked up to oxygen. The official diagnosis of his condition is called "Sequoiaosis"

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Robb Brophy who makes the 'Elkhorn' mandolins, mentioned that he went through a dose of hell when he was working on a Cocobolo mandolin. Apparently the dust from that stuff is toxic - you don't need an allergy to it,it gets you whichever way. However,the result of his work was the most awesome looking back of any mandolin i've ever seen,
    Ivan
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    Mediocre but OK with that Paul Busman's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Cocobolo is fantastic for sure. One woodworker told me "There are two kinds of woodworkers. Those that are allergic to Cocobolo, and those who will be"
    I don't make stringed instruments, but I use a lot of Cocobolo for the wooden penny whistles I make. Dust mask, eye protection, and a disposable surgical gown which completely covers me are pretty standard. Afterwards, a thorough hand wash. Luckily, the worst I've had so far is a rash where dust got beneath my wrist watch band.
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  12. #10

    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Rosewood of any sort. Doing a batch of 3 mando's some years back. I was usually pretty careful to wash up after working it; One evening, had the fire roaring (ie. got a little sweaty), did some major plate hogging, and then just dropped into bed. Major mistake. Usually do fine if I shower off right away, but, uh, well I didn't; had a great deal of skin peeling for a few weeks after. Lesson learned. Oh yeah, another sensitive little tip. You should wash up before you, um, relieve yourself, as well.

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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Six years ago I was working with western red cedar, with respirators, outside. Within 3 days I was very ill with a serious upper respiratory infection. 90 days to clear up after several doses of antibiotics.

    Next year, same thing but better respirators and in a breeze. Off to emergency. Another 90 days.

    Third year.. better respirators, additional precautions, outside as usual but with a large fan blowing the dust away. No help.
    Sick a third time.

    I gave up working with western red cedar because:
    One year later I ended up with throat cancer in the exact sport where the respiratory infections started.
    The oncologist still does not know if there was a direct correlation, but believes likely.
    I went through treatment for 3 years.. now OK.

    I do not smoke, chew, do drugs, drink to excess or otherwise abuse myself, and now serious wood dust cautions.
    I have dust collectors and air filtration systems in my shop as well as full mask respirators... always.

    Coco bola, Mansonia and pernambuco have all brought me down, but nothing like western red cedar.

    Use caution.

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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    As most of you may know cutting pearl is very toxic ...Willie

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    Registered User David Houchens's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    I've been a lucky one, (so far). I've used madagascar rw, brazilian rw, honduras rw, ebony of various sorts, cherry, black walnut, claro walnut and more with no major problems. I really need to wear a respirator. I usually just wear a dust mask, no gloves.
    I have never tried western red cedar or cocobolo. I have a set of cocobolo back and sides for a guitar I've had for years. I will wear a respirator in the future, (actually get a better one). I guess just because I don't feel it doesn't mean there's no problem. Thanks for the heads up.

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    Registered User testore's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Jeff, that's the most extreme case I've ever heard! Wow! I guess I'm lucky to only get the sniffles when I cut poplar. Smells like a chicken ranch too.
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    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Poplar sends me into an extended sneeze fest.
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  19. #16

    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Morado, aka pau ferro, aka bolivian rosewood, gave my face a contact dermatitis where the outer skin was replacing itself every 72 hours. Added doc visit and script cortisone cream to the price of the octave 20 yrs ago. Still have bent 000 sides of it hanging in the shop for next face replacement. Ebony dust just gives 3 day hay fever......

  20. #17

    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    I got a piece of Pau ferro jammed in the bandsaw blade and it made smoke in the shop. I stayed up all night breathing long and slow to get enough air to live on.

  21. #18
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Thanks everyone, this has certainly been an (itchy) eye opener!
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    There is an excellent guide to wood allergies and toxicity HERE:

    http://www.wood-database.com/wood-ar...s-and-toxicity
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  24. #20
    Registered User Max Girouard's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    I've had bad luck with cocobolo, so will not use it any more. Induced hive like symptoms where the dust landed on my skin so it has been banned from the shop. I've also worked a little bit with rosewood, and that burns the heck out of my sinuses while being sanded, even with a dust mask on and the down draft table sucking in most of the dust. Recently I've started to notice ebony doing the same thing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Willie View Post
    As most of you may know cutting pearl is very toxic ...Willie
    While I agree that cutting shell can be hazardous, it is not toxic. There are no toxin's in the shell itself, rather the type of dust generated is hazardous to breath in, as is any dust really. Here is a nice article put together a few years back by the "Duke of Pearl"...........
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails DOPCUT SHELLANDDIEarticle.pdf  

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  26. #21
    Registered User Mandoborg's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    If I make it to heaven, there are a few questions i need to ask and one is most certainly going to be ' Why did you make my favorite wood, Cocobolo, so dang miserable to work with ?

  27. #22
    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    As Max mentioned, dust is bad for us. We should avoid breathing dust when we can. One of the things I've done in my new shop is to include a whole shop dust filtration system, nothing fancy, just a tightly build "closet" containing the air handler of the heat pump. I have two 20" by 25" air filter racks built into the wall and door of the closet near floor level. Each rack contains a 2"-thick air filter and a "pre-filter" in front of each. The pre-filters are just standard 1" thick furnace filters, and they are to catch the bigger particles. They can be vacuumed or taken outside and blown out periodically. When I make quantities of dust (sanding, re-sawing, using the table saw) I'll turn the heat pump fan on, and all the air of the shop will be circulated through the filters and out the ceiling air vents. I also have a Delta air purifier, a Jet Dust collector, and a down-draft sanding table. If I end up sanding large quantities of rosewood or something like that, I'll use my air supplied respirator along with all of those. One of my regrets in life is not getting serious about dust collection earlier. 30 years of sanding, sawmilling, and other dust-making work can't have been good for me, so now I'm trying to make up for it!

    As for reactions to wood dust, I usually don't have any problems. I bought a quantity of very old Brazillian Rosewood lumber some years back and resawed most of it into guitar back and side sets. I did quite a bit of that work outside, using dust extraction even out there, but that was a lot of dust(!) and I had mild hive-like skin reactions and eyes nearly swollen shut. I've since been able to build with rosewood, sand guitar bodies and so forth with no problems, but woods like rosewoods are often sensitizers, so avoiding the dust and washing up after working the wood are good practices even for those of us who don't normally react.
    I managed to talk one customer out of using cocobolo for his guitar, so I've not dealt with large quantities of that dust.

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  29. #23
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    A New Mexico luthier had a custom cocobolo guitar for resale. His buyer had a reaction to the completed guitar.
    Is that common?

  30. #24
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    There is an excellent guide to wood allergies and toxicity HERE:

    http://www.wood-database.com/wood-ar...s-and-toxicity
    After looking at that list, I oughta close up my wood shop. Well, maybe not, but I'll be a lot more careful.
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  31. #25
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    Default Re: wood dust allergy

    Never used cocobolo and after reading the above won't. Stopped using Western Red Cedar because it irritated me, but the worst reaction has been with silky oak (Grevillea robusta). I bought some beautiful quarter sawn planks, but after cutting just one piece went in to an uncontrollable coughing fit. Sold it and it is now banned from the workshop. Brazilian Rosewood, Indian Rosewood no problems and also no problems with any other woods.
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