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Can Breathing Sawdust Cause Cancer?

Studies have shown that breathing in a large amount of sawdust can make one susceptible to nasal cancer. The wood particles take on a carcinogen property and can lodge in the nasal cavity with repeated exposure to sawdust. Contractors and carpenters must deal with flying particles on a daily basis, and therefore, need to be sure that safety precautions are in order. Even the weekend hobby wood worker should take every measure to ensure that the dangerous sawdust particles are kept away from the face and lungs.

If you are working with a table saw, a dust cutter is a necessity investment to capture the bulk of the airborne particles in a bag. The unit affixes to the bottom of the saw table and sucks in most of the cancer causing sawdust from the air. However, when choosing a dust catching bag, be sure the materials are top grade and able to trap and retain the majority of airborne particles. To add another measure of precaution, try to keep your wood working project restricted to an outdoor area set up with the breeze carrying any debris away from your face. In addition, particles that lodge into or below the clothing can work their way into the nasal passages, whether at the job site or when you return home, putting everyone inside the home, including your pets, at risk for lung and nasal disorders.

The culprit in sawdust that may create a cancerous legion in the nose or lungs is an inorganic form of arsenic used to treat commercial grade blocks of wood. Although the chemically treated lumber is no longer used in the residential market, industrial and commercial projects may be subject to potentially deadly lumbar preservation.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, persons exposed to lowers levels of wood preserving carcinogens may experience a slight to moderate discoloration of the skin and develop small, crusted skin ailments such as warts or corns. Exposure to higher levels of chemically treated wood and airborne sawdust may result in death. Check with the EPA website for additional signs and symptoms if you believe you have been affected by sawdust exposure.

In addition to lung and nasal cancer, the Department of Health and Human Services have conducted studies to reveal that persons subjected to high levels of inorganic arsenic have suffered with skin, liver and/or bladder cancer. The DHHS recommends that even short-term exposure to chemically treated wood or wood products in the home should be handled with maximum care to include the use of a face mask, gloves and protective clothing to reduce the risk of sawdust exposure. Even a one-time school project can pose a health risk to the builder with just minimal exposure to arsenic treated wood blocks.

If you believe that you have been exposed to dangerous chemicals, you should be seen by a medical professional immediately. The Agency For Toxic Substance and Disease Registry is able to treat a sawdust or other chemical reaction, and will be also assist with education, safety, and prevention programs for the work place or home.

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