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Wood Dust - Cancer & Other Health Effects

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Wood Dust…Nuisance or Silent Assassin?

It’s amazing what can be created from wood…if you like design as much as I do, there is nothing better than that wonderful piece of furniture you found in the perfect color that completely matches the style you were going for. We brag about it to our friends and family, we even go so far as to say it was “beautifully crafted” and a masterpiece.

But do we actually really think about what went into making it? Would we feel the same way about that piece of furniture if we knew it played a role in giving the person who made it chronic migraines, dermatitis, or lung issues? What about cancer? Do I have your attention yet?

How bad could woodshop dust really be?

Exposure to wood dust has long been associated with a variety of adverse health effects, including dermatitis, allergic respiratory effects, mucosal and nonallergic respiratory effects, and cancer. - Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, wood is all natural, could it really cause all of this?” The short, simple answer is yes...trees are toxic and wood dust is the pain culprit. Wood dust is a human carcinogen and is known to cause cancer.

Who is at risk?

So who is at risk you ask? Studies have shown that the longer you are exposed to wood dust, the greater chance you have of developing some sort of issue involving it. Some types of wood dust even sensitize you to it the longer you use it. In short, if you have a few woodworking machines in your garage, have proper dust collection, and take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe, chances are that you will be just fine.

Wood factory or mill workers are at the highest risk of developing a debilitating sickness or worse because they are exposed to a greater magnitude of wood dust….every day.

What are companies doing about it?