An overlooked hazard in any industrial woodshop is toxic fumes that come from the woods and the products you work with. Regardless of whether you operate an industrial woodshop or are a casual hobbyist, the danger of long-term exposure to toxic fumes from the wood you work with should not be taken lightly.
In today’s blog, we further discuss the impact of toxic fumes in the woodworking industry and how Aeroex Technologies offers an engineered air filtration system that is capable of reducing toxic fumes from your woodshop facility.
Table of Contents
Health Risks Associated with Toxic Fumes from Woodworking
Wood Processing Fumes
Exposure to toxic fumes can come directly from the constituents of coniferous trees such as cedar and pine woods. Wood dust particles is considered a Group 1 carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Specifically, exposure to fumes from wood dust particles can result in health issues due to the natural chemicals of the wood and substances in the wood i.e. bacteria, molds, pesticides, and fungi being released into the work environment as fumes.
Wood dust particles emit fumes in woodworking processes such as sawing, routing, sanding, and other operations, freeing microscopic particles into the shop that can irritate the eyes, noses, and mouth of your shop personnel. Toxic effects will range depending on the species of wood.
Long-term exposure to cedar and pine wood fumes can exacerbate the symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma, and in some cases, can result in the permanent damage of lung tissue. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Western red cedar, in particular, has been proven to contribute to the development of asthma. Plicatic acid is a common allergen and exposure to red cedar wood dust that contains this acid is what can cause an asthmatic reaction.
Case Study: Dundalk Leisurecraft
Aeroex Technologies offers the expertise needed to ensure that the toxic fumes emitted from woodworking businesses are reduced in the working environment.
Canadian manufacturer, Dundalk Leisurecraft specializes in building rustic, solid wood indoor and outdoor furniture, saunas, tiki bars, gazebos, and more – all constructed from maple, pine, and cedar. Dundalk reached out to our team about finding a solution for dealing with the toxic fumes that were being emitted into their work environment – specifically, from working with red cedar.
Dundalk had a working dust collector in place, but their shop personnel were experiencing some of the symptoms associated with toxic fumes from wood dust. Their existing dust collector system was effective at collecting wood dust particles, however, it was also circulating toxic fumes from the wood dust around their facility. They needed an air filtration system that was able to mitigate the exposure of their shop personnel to these fumes.
The Aeroex team of professionals assessed their shop needs and installed 2 IRIS-200 Air Purification Units that use activated carbon filters for ambient air filtration to remove the fumes in their workshop and keep the air clean. After the installation of the IRIS-200 Air Purification Units, the Dundalk staff noticed that the smell of the toxic fumes, as well as their symptoms, were substantially reduced.
Some woodworkers finish wood using fire in their facilities to create a sought-after charred wood or shou sugi ban inspired effect – however, finishing wood with fire can leave woodworkers exposed to the negative health implications of wood smoke.
Wood smoke is notorious for containing thousands of irritants and carcinogens such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Benzopyrenes – both of which are toxic to humans. Like the effects of exposure to wood dust, exposure to wood smoke can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation in addition to headaches and nausea. Long-term exposure to wood smoke can also worsen the symptoms of existing respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Case Study: Montreal Bagels
Montreal-style bagel businesses authentically produce their bagels by hand and in-shop. Using wood-fired ovens to cook these bagels is what gives them their notable flavour. However, the untreated wood smoke released from these ovens can lead to large environmental and health issues without an air filtration system.
Luckily, Aeroex Technologies offers experience working with Montreal-style bagel businesses that use wood-fired ovens to produce their bagels. Our line of IRIS and ARO air filtration systems can keep wood smoke emissions at bay – mitigating the environmental and health risks associated with their untreated release.
Wood Treatment and Finishing Products
Wood treatment and finishing products commonly used in a woodworking shop can also lead to health issues.
In wood treatment, there are certain pesticides used as preservatives to maximize the service life of the wood. Small amounts of treated wood chemicals can escape or leach from the treated wood. The number of pesticide chemicals released from the wood will depend on a few factors. However, working with treated wood in a shop will exacerbate the release of these chemicals into the work environment as wood dust fumes – exposing you and your personnel to its effects.
Wood finishing products such as oil-based stains, varnishes, and shellacs emit fumes that contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can degrade the quality of air in the shop and negatively impact human health. Breathing issues, nausea, dizziness, eye and throat irritation, and headaches are all potential symptoms of exposure to the VOCs in the fumes when using these products. Long-term exposure to these products’ toxic fumes can also result in wood stain poisoning with symptoms that include a burning sensation, blurred vision, and collapse, and cancer in more serious cases.
If you’re concerned about exposure to toxic fumes from wood treatment and finishing products in your woodshop, consider Aeroex’s line of IRIS air purification systems. As in the case of toxic fumes from wood processing, IRIS purification systems utilize activated carbon filters for ambient air cleaning to remove toxic fumes and improve indoor air quality in your workshop. Get a quote for an IRIS air purification system today!
Air filtration system for Toxic Oil Fumes in Woodshop
As you can see above, there are a myriad of ways in which exposure to toxic fumes can occur in the woodworking industry. Long-term exposure and improper precautions to fumes from wood processing, wood smoke, and wood treatment and finishing products can negatively impact the health of you and your shop personnel.
It is for this reason that a proper air filtration system is in place to remove the presence of these particles and protect you and your workers from the long-term effects of exposure to toxic fumes in the woodshop.
Aeroex air purification solutions target toxic fumes that are common in many woodworking facilities. We use multi-stage filtration techniques that target the sources of air quality issues. Our systems are designed to capture the smallest particles with the highest efficiency, and our made-in-Canada devices are designed to maximize the lifecycle of your filters (important given the volume of toxic fumes produced in large-scale woodworking operations).
Models in our IRIS and ARO series are capable of mitigating the impact of toxic fumes using ambient or source-capture filtration. Aeroex offers the ability to augment any existing ventilation systems you have with an air filtration solution. This can be an option when you already have some mitigation measures in place at the source, but wish to improve the working conditions across your shop.
Given the various options and models, we recommend that Aeroex get to know your operation to make a recommendation about the most affordable and efficient options. With over 20 years of experience and a variety of filtration media to choose from, we can assess your woodshop’s unique needs and offer you a tailor-made solution to remove toxic fumes from wood processing, wood smoke, and wood treatment and finishing products from your facility.