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Will I die from carcinogenic cedar/mold dust?
April 28, 2014 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Last year I replaced the cedar decking from my deck and kept the old decking, thinking it might serve for a fencing project. Now I want to use some of it to build gates for said fencing project, but first want to clean it up and make it pretty. It's mildewy and such, but nothing that a good coarse grain sandpaper won't fix. However, I'm worried that the dust created by such a project might be especially nasty. Am I taking my life into my hands power sanding 40 or 50 boards? What kinds of reasonable precautions should I take? Renting a powered full face mask is probably beyond my budget...
posted by carterk to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
 
was the old cedar pressure treated? the mildew suggests, but does not conclude not, which is good.

pressure treatment involves applying potentially dangerous chemicals, including chlorinated hydrocarbons, to the surface so that it will resist decay. that would be some especially nasty dust. regular cedar + mildew, no problem.
posted by bruce at 9:05 PM on April 28


Can't give you any firm evaluation of the risk, since everybody has a different sensitivity and safety recommendations for one time exposure would likely be different from the sort of protection a full time lumberyard worker might need.

-but while I have your attention....can you handle a little exercise? A sharp #4 hand plane will do a much nicer job without any of the dust or noise. You just need a solid table with some kind of "stop" (even a nail) towards one end. A scraper would probably work too and is simpler to sharpen. Seriously, hand planes work great and leave a beautiful finish.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:07 PM on April 28


One should minimize exposure to wood dust whenever possible especially with wood known to be sensitizing (IE cedar). Working outside wearing a cheap half face respirator with dust cartridges and long sleeve shirt and long pants would be cheap protection.
posted by Mitheral at 9:47 PM on April 28 [2 favorites]


I used to lurk on WoodCentral quite a bit and distinctly remember a post from someone who almost died from a lung infection after sanding an old moldy cutting board without any breathing protection. Please err on the side of caution.
posted by killy willy at 7:06 AM on April 29


Love the idea of the hand plane, I'll try that. If I end up sanding, I'll buy that half face respirator Mitheral linked to. Thanks, all!
posted by carterk at 7:50 AM on April 29


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