I'm just curious if any of you fellow cabinetmakers have asthma. I had it pretty severely as a child and have been wondering if my choice of occupation will make it come back due to the dusts/fumes.
I have basic dust collection (portable units) and wear a mask but I can't avoid breathing some dust. So, if you have asthma, are you still able to run your business? Does breathing dust worsen it? I’m just curious what I can expect if I stay in.
From contributor D:
I have asthma also as well as my children. The only time it really seems to bother me is when I am spraying in the booth. Some woods bother me more than others. Once you learn which ones to avoid without a mask, you should be ok but everyone is different. I have actually built up a tolerance over the last few years.
There are several brands that are made for sander dust extraction. Just don't try hooking up a sander to a cheap shop vacuum unless you want to go deaf and not have the best dust collection. The image below is the bag out of my Festool vacuum that I just changed.
This bag has three months of the finest and most harmful dust. After changing it I realized all of this dust could have been in my lungs and all over the shop. I bought my current sanding setup after suffering for months with bronchitis and shortness of breath. Now all breathing issues are gone and my shop is cleaner.
It never fails if I get stuck with an MDF job no matter how good the dust collection is you always breathe some of it and I get severe bronchitis from it. I couldn't imagine having asthma on top of that. Dust collection is definitely key as is good shop ventilation.
Anyway, I am kind of a holistic guy and I came up with a few solutions that the doctors couldn't. Obviously the mask will be the best deterrent, but what about what gets through the mask? I found that using a Neti Pot (Walgreens comes with prepared packets of a saline type solution, read the directions) at night about an hour before bed clears your nose of all that buildup. My grandfather was a surgeon/woodworker and he used to snort saltwater afterwards. I tried this for years, but it was way harsh. Neti Pot works great.
You would be surprised to see how well you breathe with a clear nose. I also have a deviated septum which aggravates the situation. As for the lungs, I found that the lacquer/thinner fumes were building up toxicity in my liver which affected my breathing. Two things worked for me. One, I called 3M to make sure I was using the proper masks with the proper charcoal filters and found that I wasn't - for 5 years. I also found out that lacquer/thinner fumes were entering through the eyes and skin. In the summertime I used to spray with shorts on so it would come through my legs. So I now wear a full face mask, wear pants and long shirts, and not to forget the 8 mil. powder-free nitrile gloves.
The second thing I did was to start taking Blue Green Algae from Klamath (enzyme enhanced) as directed by my reflexologist. You can get it at any health store. The algae is a tremendous detoxifier and the day I started taking it and wearing all of the protective gear, I started breathing better. After four months of shortness of breath, I was better in a day. I guess the point is to protect yourself best you can, but learn what to do if some of that stuff gets past the protection. I went to the doctors for testing and it cost me $1,400 and you know what they found after blood work, urinalysis, chest x-rays, and asthma testing - nothing. To them I was in perfect health, but I knew there was something wrong.