LumberJocks

Wood Allergy

  • Advertise with us

« back to Safety in the Woodworking Shop forum

Forum topic by sapwood posted 12-08-2020 09:56 PM 817 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View sapwood's profile

sapwood

80 posts in 2783 days


12-08-2020 09:56 PM

I forgot how bad allergy to certain wood can be. About 5 years ago I bought some Maduro (Brazilian Rosewood) which I used to make a cigar humidor. It was in mid summer and although I did wear a 3m respirator (with replaceable filters on the side) I broke out with a terrible rash (like poison ivy) around the perimeter of the mask after a few days of working with this wood. Fast forward to this week, I planed some bocote and a small amount of the remaining Maduro for a new project. Iforgot how bad this stuff affects me. Same precautions but terrible reaction from the dust. Face and eyes swollen and itching. I use dust deputy and shop vac in my garage/shop but that didn’t cut it.
I’ve read numerous forum entries about this issue but until you experience it, I kind of brushed it off. I guess I’m sensitized now so I will always research the wood species before using from now on. That rosewood is so beautiful though….....


15 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

8681 posts in 1794 days


#1 posted 12-08-2020 10:08 PM

Careful. Typically allergies become more frequent, and more serious. While wood allergies mostly involve rash/itch as opposed to closed airways. It’s a button I wouldn’t suggest pushing. Always and never aren’t typically words used when talking about allergies.

-- Think safe, be safe

View pottz's profile

pottz

20258 posts in 2205 days


#2 posted 12-08-2020 11:01 PM

might be getting reactions myself i was turning some pepper grinders made from cocobolo and ive had itchy arms and legs the last week now.i was wearing a respirator so no breathing issues,just itchy.cocobolo is well know for this.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Fossil22's profile

Fossil22

10 posts in 549 days


#3 posted 12-08-2020 11:06 PM

Going back a few years I discovered the hard way about my allergy to western red cedar. Yes, the stuff used for decks. As opposed to skin problems my asthma flared up. Quick trip to ER and haven’t touch that wood again

-- Fossil

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

9308 posts in 3486 days


#4 posted 12-08-2020 11:41 PM

Just last week I was doing a lot of work with Black Walnut. Darn if I didn’t get a scratchy throat. I was using all sorts of dust extraction, except on my band saw. I thought I was coming down with something, damn it!

Since then I’ve been even more careful about saw dust, especially Black Walnut.

View pottz's profile

pottz

20258 posts in 2205 days


#5 posted 12-09-2020 12:20 AM


Just last week I was doing a lot of work with Black Walnut. Darn if I didn t get a scratchy throat. I was using all sorts of dust extraction, except on my band saw. I thought I was coming down with something, damn it!

Since then I ve been even more careful about saw dust, especially Black Walnut.

- BurlyBob


yes black walnut is very toxic.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

4870 posts in 2714 days


#6 posted 12-09-2020 06:25 AM

Wood allergies are no joke. Anyone with asthma, or seasonal tree pollen allergies has high probability of skin reaction to sanding dust, even on measly 2 star rated woods:
https://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/wood-allergies-and-toxicity/

Be safe, not sorry.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View sepeck's profile

sepeck

523 posts in 3361 days


#7 posted 12-09-2020 09:32 AM

I added an air cleaner in my shop. It’s a Wen, not the best but it works well enough at getting the stuff out of the air a little faster when you are done.

-- -Steven Peck, http://www.blkmtn.org

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2614 posts in 4013 days


#8 posted 12-09-2020 10:37 AM

Black walnut is even toxic to other plants. Many will not grow under or around it. The roots produce a toxin of some kind.

View PBWilson1970's profile

PBWilson1970

220 posts in 614 days


#9 posted 12-09-2020 01:58 PM

So true about Black Walnut. The area around the trees I had sawn into lumber many years ago took years to recover. The nursery we went to when looking for a replacement tree wouldn’t warranty trees planted where Black Walnut trees used to grow.

Walnut dust always gave me mild head cold symptoms and I’m very careful when using it.

Others that affect me are Western Red Cedar (made my lips numb and tingle when I was making a rose trellis) , Wenge (nasty stuff but very pretty), Ipe (although it makes for excellent practice katana swords!) and various Rosewood species. Be safe!

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

View sapwood's profile

sapwood

80 posts in 2783 days


#10 posted 12-09-2020 02:54 PM

Thanks for the input everyone. I think, after this experience, I will invest in one of those air cleaners Sepeck recomended. My “shop” is in my garage and I usually keep the garage door open, but now realize that after vacuuming up as much dust as I can during and after processing the wood, I usually get my leaf blower out and try to blow the remaining dust outside. It kicks up a hell of a cloud and, even though I usually wear my mask, the residual dust is still covering me. I figure that I neglected to take a shower after the woodwork and must have transfered the dust in my hair to my pillow. The past two days I’ve woken with bad swelling on my face, eyes, ear, neck on the side I normally sleep so that must be the cause.
Wow…. hope someone else can learn from my misery. Don’t know if it’s just the Bolivian Rosewood or the Bocote but I guess I will have to pay more attention and improve my dust safety regime! Good news is that I’m about through the dust creating part of the project.

View pottz's profile

pottz

20258 posts in 2205 days


#11 posted 12-09-2020 03:10 PM

ive done small turnings like pens with cocobolo before with no problems this time it was two days worth all day being covered with the dust.i usually have my large garage door open too but this time it was cold so i had the door down which made it worse.gotta look into a air cleaner myself.allergies can go away or become much worse as time goes by.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View sepeck's profile

sepeck

523 posts in 3361 days


#12 posted 12-09-2020 05:16 PM


Thanks for the input everyone. I think, after this experience, I will invest in one of those air cleaners Sepeck recomended. My “shop” is in my garage and I usually keep the garage door open, but now realize that after vacuuming up as much dust as I can during and after processing the wood, I usually get my leaf blower out and try to blow the remaining dust outside. It kicks up a hell of a cloud and, even though I usually wear my mask, the residual dust is still covering me. I figure that I neglected to take a shower after the woodwork and must have transfered the dust in my hair to my pillow. The past two days I ve woken with bad swelling on my face, eyes, ear, neck on the side I normally sleep so that must be the cause.
Wow…. hope someone else can learn from my misery. Don t know if it s just the Bolivian Rosewood or the Bocote but I guess I will have to pay more attention and improve my dust safety regime! Good news is that I m about through the dust creating part of the project.

- sapwood

Even with the garage door open, air will often not circulate unless you have another door opened for the air to pass through. It will often get ‘trapped’. And yes, you will want to get out of anything that is covered in your allergy trigger and get it off your body soon after you are done working with it as well as preferably not bring it into the house.

Also, for those with allergies (seasonal/asthma), I started replacing my house HVAC filter monthly with a mid grade rated filter years ago. It has resolved so many issues for myself and my son. Several friends have done so as well so while it’s not going to deal with your shop, it may help with additional symptoms. Just a thought.

You may want to check with a doctor on symptoms as well. Good luck.

-- -Steven Peck, http://www.blkmtn.org

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2614 posts in 4013 days


#13 posted 12-10-2020 10:45 AM

A friend of mine died in may from wood allergies. I still don’t know the type of wood. He made it 150’ from shop to house, got out his inhaler, but he also had a heart attack. His wife found him when she returned home. He knew, and the rule was to never work that type of wood alone.

View HokieKen's profile (online now)

HokieKen

19186 posts in 2359 days


#14 posted 12-10-2020 05:02 PM

I have the same sensitivity to Morado (Bolivian Rosewood). For the past couple of years when I sand or turn it, I would have some redness and irritation on my forearms and sinus issues if I didn’t wear a respirator. A couple of weeks ago, I turned and sanded some and ended up with my eyes swollen to slits, rash and irritation just about everywhere that even small particles could get to and really bad rash and irritation on my arms. Like you, I really love that particular wood but after this go with it, I think I’m gonna surrender…

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View LedRat's profile

LedRat

13 posts in 253 days


#15 posted 01-18-2021 12:44 AM

Good to know about the rosewoods. I recently made some combs from wenge and now I have rashy spots on my arms and torso. I haven’t had any respiratory issues since wearing my GVS mask, but this skin irritation is concerning, and I hope it doesn’t lead to a sensitivity to other woods I like, such as padauk. Pine and cedar have always set my sinuses off, but at least that is easily dealt with.

Since long sleeves are dangerous in the shop (and ineffective at blocking dust anyway), has anyone tried some sort of topical barrier, like a balm or second skin?

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com