Respirators and dust mask

Wood Dust Health Risks

I've had a few people recently ask me about what dust mask I use for woodworking and I cringe when I hear the question.  There are so many people who are not aware that wood dust is a carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer.  The US Occupational Health and Safety Association (OSHA) regulates workplaces to ensure the safety of employees.  Wood dust is one area they cover on their website due to the health risks.

I know two retired woodworkers who have permanent lung damage due to wood dust, so I take my personal protection equipment (PPE) seriously.  I've invested in dust collection in my workshop and I've developed the best dust collection hood for a miter saw I've been able to find.  Extracting dust at the source of where it is created is the first protection strategy.

When I can't extract enough dust at the machine, or I'm doing something where I don't have dust collection, I wear a respirator - NOT a dust mask.  A proper fitting respirator with a P100 filter is what will properly protect your lungs from the damage wood dust can do.  A dust mask does not meet safety standards for protection from wood dust.

I've used several different half-mask respirators (covering nose and mouth) over the past 15 years, and my favorite is the 3M Quick Latch system.  All the  respirators I've used have performed well for me, but the quick latch innovation on the 3M model makes taking off and putting on the respirator much easier than the others.  I find that the easier it is to use, the more likely I am to use it.

Here are links to the filter and respirator model that I use.  Note that you need to purchase the right size respirator for your face - mine is a large.  Full disclosure - these are affiliate links so I do earn money for our video content work when you purchase using these links.

You Want NIOSH Certified

Dust masks don't protect your health from wood dust.  Here'a a warning label from a dust mask package, and it states it is not NIOSH certified.  It also states "If you are around harmful substances, use a proper Government certified respirator."

I hope you find this helpful.  I didn't pay attention to wood dust until I saw the effects of it first hand.  It's top of mind for me now.

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