*Slogan copyright American Lung Association
Editor's Note: This is the second part of a two-part look at handling solid surface dust, which began with Jon Olson's Shop Managment column in the last issue of SSM.
"C.O.P.D," said the doctor.
"What is that?" I asked. "Never heard of it."
"Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Basically, your lung and breathing capacity are compromised. You have the beginning symptoms"
I went to get checked out because I was short of breath. Have never smoked, don't have asthma, but I had worked in enclosed areas, with little to no ventilation, breathing in wood and MDF dust, and at times, lacquer fumes. Sometimes I wore masks that were provided, sometimes not. You know, the basic young mind-set — fearless, immortal.
But, at 25 years of age, with a dear wife and newborn child, hearing a diagnosis like that is a wake-up call. Looking in the mirror, I had only myself to blame.
So if you ask me how bad dust is for you, do I have a story to tell you. . . .
The bottom line? Dust is worse than you think.
My position on "Nuisance dust": Because no one can accurately predict what that means in terms of long-term effects to us, ASSUME THE WORST. No, I'm not a fear monger. But think about it. Don't people in general lack the foresight to understand the downstream effects of all their actions? That's why a famous authority on human behavior wrote, "It is not in man that walketh to direct his step."
Consider this too. Yes, a safety program is your legal obligation, and also makes financial sense; an injury prevented costs less in financial and human terms. But even above and beyond that, what about the ethics of the matter? Can a business/owner in good conscience take home a profit, without first doing everything possible to protect its' people. When money matters more than people, problems follow.
In Sterling Surfaces' first shop, we tried using basic barrel collectors for the table and panel saw, but we were still saying: "This dust is everywhere. We have to control it."
We're still learning how to, but I'll share a little about the road we've traveled fighting this ubiquitous foe. The preface to the journey is this: We now believe a meaningful approach to dust prevention includes three types of dust collection:
1. Large tool at-the-source collection
2. Small and hand tool at-the-source collection
3. Ambient dust collectio
Large At-The-Source Collection
Any large machine we use in solid surface fabrication generates the largest amount of shavings AND dust, the amount of each determined by the raw material makeup and numerous other factors. One thing to consider is keeping your cutting tools sharp — it will produce more shavings than dust. Another thing that will help is to use upshear cutters on your CNC router where possible; it at least channels the dust up toward dust collection hoods and hoses.