Wood Dust

Why am I being warned about potential exposure to wood dust?

  • Wood dust is on the Proposition 65 list because it can cause cancer.
  • Exposure to wood dust on a recurring basis can cause cancers of the nose, throat and sinuses.
  • Proposition 65 requires businesses to determine if they must provide a warning about exposures to listed chemicals.

What is wood dust?

  • Wood dust is generated when machines or tools are used to cut or shape timber and other wood materials.  Activities like chipping, sawing, drilling, sanding or woodturning create wood dust.

How does exposure to wood dust occur?

  • The cutting, shaping and sanding of wood releases wood dust into the air, where it can be inhaled.  Wood dust also settles onto tables, floors and other surfaces.  When disturbed, it can become airborne again and can be inhaled.  Handling wood dust and materials containing wood dust, such as compost, can also lead to wood dust being inhaled.

How can I reduce my exposure to wood dust?

  • Work outside if possible when you are sanding or creating fine wood dust. Wear a dust mask that fits snugly and comfortably.
  • If you work often with wood, are a hobbyist, or do home improvement projects with wood:
    • Consider installing a dust-collection or air-filtration system in your indoor work space to help capture and remove wood dust at the source.
    • Consider using a saw hood or a sanding table that has suction to pull dust particles downward to prevent inhalation, especially if you are sanding wood that is glued, laminated or has synthetic finishes.
  • Do not use brooms, blowers, fans or compressed air to move dust.
    • Vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or use a shop vacuum with a HEPA filter if possible.
    • Use wet clean-up methods such as wet rags.
    • Carefully bag and seal wood dust from vacuum or other dust extraction systems.
  • Wash your hands after finishing wood work and before preparing food and eating.
  • Change out of clothes that contain wood dust before entering your home, car, and other areas.

For more information:

General Wood Dust Fact Sheets and Resources

Scientific Information on Wood Dust

  • State of California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

Proposition 65

  • California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
    Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)
Posted November 2016

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