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Todd in PA

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Joined
Feb 16, 2021
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79
Location
Port Matilda, PA
Hi everyone. Thanks for your help in my pen turning hobby.

When I first started I noticed there were some ill effects of being in the shop. Headaches, stuffed up nose, sinus and throat irritation. I thought I had covid. I was using alumilite resin at the time and decided that it was just the dust from that. I started wearing a 95 paper dust mask. I'm sure it helped. I upgraded and got a half mask with dual filters (which is actually way more comfortable), but I still feel like garbage for a day or two after I turn pens. I got one of those overhead dust filters for the woodshop too. It doesn't seem to matter if I turn wood or resin anymore. I have a beard, so mask effectiveness is limited. I searched here but couldn't find a similar topic, so I thought I'd just ask. At this point, I'm regularly using an arsenal of chemicals that could be the culprit-- CA glue, the accelerator, epoxy glue, spray paint, exotic wood dust, and my original theory of alumilite dust.

I just wanted to ask if anyone else has had this issue and how you've solved it. I might need to get a full mask. It's gotten nicer out, so I can open the window at least to get some extra ventilation. Thanks again. You guys are always a big help. :cool:

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mark james

IAP Collection, Curator
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Sep 6, 2012
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Medina, Ohio
Hi Todd. I have many, many thoughts. This is not to be boastful... but my wife is a retired PhD Industrial Chemist, specializing in Urethanes... She told me many, many times. If I had a beard (yes, see my photo to the left, I am a slow learner) the ability of ANY face mask, shield, respirator, etc would be greatly diminished unless I was clean shaven. That is #1. A firm seal is essential.

I developed a sensitivity to Urethanes (Alumilite Fumes from the out-gasing). MY wife said this 18 months before the MD's... Based on her chemical lab experience. It does not go away, it only gets worse with repeated exposure. This I say in full acknowledgement that everyone's biology is different, some may fare worse, some better. I developed skin rashes that slowly went away over a 4 year period. I will not handle Rosewoods and Bloodwood without gloves, and then only to box and mail away! Most I believe/hope is gone. Spalted wood with the spores I am also careful with. I'm OK with CA, and after trying a variety of brands do like Glu Boost. I do still have a fan behind my head blowing the fumes away. (Need to be mindful to minimize blowing dust onto a fresh coat of CA). But for whatever reason, CA is OK.

I have a basement workshop, not good ventilation. I have a window fan blowing air out, a dust collector, an overhead filter. When I do extensive sanding I have a full respirator, goggles, face shield... A Cyborg!

So, I guess to summarize... take every precaution you can. If you are having issues, don't ignore them. Everyone is different, but many problems are consistent.

There are many, many attractive timbers and materials, if you react to one, clean/throw away every filter that was used! And move on to a different material. And do clean out your dust collection canister/shop vacs. They will simply re-contaminate your workshop. And cr.p... yes, clean your shop if you had a reaction, dust will be everywhere.

Oh, Have FUN!!! :cool:
 

leehljp

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Joined
Feb 6, 2005
Messages
8,246
Location
Tunica, MS,
I had been turning pens for about 2 years and using CA. Many new people are not aware that CA fumes and dust can cause severe allergic reactions. At the 2 year mark, I started having runny nose late at night after making a pen and finishing it. The next time I made and finished one with CA, it was fairly severe, like the flu, and the third time I got double vision. The flu like allergies lasted 2 to 3 days.

I looked at other finishes but was spoiled with the 30 minute finish. I ended up installing a DC (Dust Collector) system and purchased a dual filter respirator as you have. I now have 4 dual mask respirators and keep them clean. Quite a few have allergies to particular types of wood also.

The alternative is stopping with this great hobby. Respirators are a life saver!
 

Jay

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Dec 5, 2018
Messages
78
Location
Atascadero, CA
Todd,
I have a beard which I refuse to give up. I used the half mask as you do. It helped, but it is not effective if you have a beard. I eventually spent the money and got the Powercap from PekeSafety. Works great for dust. However, it will not provide protection for fumes. There may be filter upgrades that do so, but I did not do that research when I made the purchase. You may already have looked into the various full masks available.


TrendAir is the other full face mask in the same price range and is available through Rockler.

3M has one but that price is way out of my price range. It may be suitable for protection from fumes.
 

howsitwork

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Jul 9, 2016
Messages
1,582
Location
Thirsk
For dust protection. I got a trend air shield and that’s great. For fumes don’t know as yet. I have a dual filter mask but the filters , I have just found 🤦‍♂️ ,are not chemical fume rated so that was a waste of cash !

I will be looking at some of the 3M full shields as, let’s face it , you only get one set of lungs . Do have a full dust system and use it but must get it better set up at the bandsaw as often forget it if “ just doing a few cuts” which is dumb I know !
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2017
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Location
Wolf Creek Montana
Like Ian, @howsitwork, I have and use the Trend Pro Shield. Sinus conditions went away as long as I wear it...all the time. As for fumes, like CA, it won't help. I don't use CA as the fumes really get to me and I'm tired of getting a bloody nose with the slightest sniff of the fumes. At times I'll forget to use the shield and later in the evening I pay for it but I do have some nasal spray the Doc gave me that reduces the inflammation in my nose/sinus's.
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
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Tunica, MS,
I don't have the Trend or PowerCap, but I am sure you can get replacement filters that stop the CA fumes. The Filters are the key to the shields and respirators working properly in CA environments.
 

jjjaworski

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Joined
Feb 22, 2012
Messages
844
Location
Las Cruces, NM
Wood clergies are a bummer. I know that some exotics just cause me fits with headaches.

One method to test a new species for allergic reactions is to mix a small amount of sanding dust with vaseline and put that on your skin. If you get a red spot or other reaction you know it will not be good for you to work with it without safety precautions.

As Mark mentioned, some species can cause a reaction from handing them as well.

Do be safe and protect yourself since lung damage is pretty much permanent.

I just had a thought, the clothes you wear will also be contaminated with dust so perhaps a few dedicated turning smocks might be in order.
 

GuyOwen

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Joined
Mar 25, 2021
Messages
49
Location
Minneapolis Minnesota
I had been turning pens for about 2 years and using CA
i am at this marker and i didnt know theres a chance to get allergies to the chemicals and to CA glue specifically because its pretty much all i use as glue although i do have a dual filter respirator i dont have anything else to collect or filter dust and having made about 200-300 pens using a CA finish i havent noticed any allergies to CA but your post might have really saved me
 

PatrickR

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Apr 8, 2017
Messages
864
Location
Rural America
I don’t have any issues in my shop (knock on wood) (pun intended) but do sympothize. When I was young working in screen printing I developed an allergy to a particular product after several years of using it. It was terrible, if I was in the same area that it was used I would sneeze and my nose would run like a faucet. Besides the PPE, lots of ventilation and hepa filters will help. Also most chemical fumes fall to the ground (the MSDS will help determine this) so try and take that into account with your ventilation.
 

leehljp

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Feb 6, 2005
Messages
8,246
Location
Tunica, MS,
i am at this marker and i didnt know theres a chance to get allergies to the chemicals and to CA glue specifically because its pretty much all i use as glue although i do have a dual filter respirator i dont have anything else to collect or filter dust and having made about 200-300 pens using a CA finish i havent noticed any allergies to CA but your post might have really saved me
Guy,
I grew up somewhat naive and ignorant of allergies. I grew up on a farm, was around chemicals, insecticides and pesticides as a kid and teenager and never had an allergy. I thought allergies were for "city people". Then when I moved to a city to do some post grad work, I developed allergies (to city life 😉 ) and managed them somewhat with OTC meds. Then, at about the 2 year mark of using CA (at about the age of 60) the flu like symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks.

Some well versed guys here on this forum wrote some things to this effect: It is now IF you will develop allergies to certain woods and CA finishes, it is when - if you stay with it long enough. I have noticed that fro some, it is a matter of weeks to months and for others they have not yet. IF you did a search for "flu like symptoms" or "Flu" you will find these threads appearing at least once a year. Everything will be fine and suddenly it hits you. At first, because the use of CA (fumes - dust) has not affected the pen turner, there is no direct connection, but after the 2nd or 3rd time, reality sits in.

Smart people take to respirators or at least face masks similar to what people wear for COVID. The Covid masks are not enough for me, and for many though. There is a big difference between respirators and face masks. Most face masks are N95 at best, and there is a wide variation on respirators even though most are N99 - which is what I use - with filters for chemical fumes.
 
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Penchant 4

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Joined
Jun 23, 2018
Messages
190
Location
Great Lakes Area
For some years, I was the safety compliance supervisor at my employer. In two separate seminars with manufacturers of respirators and OSHA types, they emphasized that beards compromise the mask/face seal. Their position was that 'anything more than 5 o'clock shadow' breaks the seal and 'compromises' the respirator. Even without facial hair, the respirator should be professionally fitted...an involved but thorough process involving a really obnoxious smelling compound. Employees that refused to give up facial hair of any length were required to use full hear style respirators.
 

Todd in PA

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Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
79
Location
Port Matilda, PA
:cool:

All of your experience and advice has been very helpful. I learned a lot through this thread and I'm so glad that I asked. It was nice to hear that others have experienced problems, but it didn't result in abandoning the hobby altogether. I have a batch of pine cone blanks that I'm going to go ahead and turn, and then I'm going to clean the shop and my filters and eliminate poly resin from the equation to see if it improves my health.

Off gassing. Any idea how long this continues for? Is it primarily during the cure process of 1-2 weeks? Do you think I should store any unturned resin in a bin out in the shed?

I feel like some of my symptoms are what Hank described as CA related. Because of Covid everyone knows about N95 masks. I still had no clue there would be other numbers. 🤪 Hank mentioned N99, but now that I'm looking, I see all kinds of numbers. P100 came up for my 3M mask. I'll need to upgrade to a full face, though I think that's going to conflict with my glasses.

Thank you,
Todd
 

LK&T

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Joined
Dec 1, 2020
Messages
139
Location
Sedro Woolley, WA
:cool:

All of your experience and advice has been very helpful. I learned a lot through this thread and I'm so glad that I asked. It was nice to hear that others have experienced problems, but it didn't result in abandoning the hobby altogether. I have a batch of pine cone blanks that I'm going to go ahead and turn, and then I'm going to clean the shop and my filters and eliminate poly resin from the equation to see if it improves my health.

Off gassing. Any idea how long this continues for? Is it primarily during the cure process of 1-2 weeks? Do you think I should store any unturned resin in a bin out in the shed?

I feel like some of my symptoms are what Hank described as CA related. Because of Covid everyone knows about N95 masks. I still had no clue there would be other numbers. 🤪 Hank mentioned N99, but now that I'm looking, I see all kinds of numbers. P100 came up for my 3M mask. I'll need to upgrade to a full face, though I think that's going to conflict with my glasses.

Thank you,
Todd
I have a full beard and find a half face respirator very effective at eliminating issues I have with wood dust and CA glues. Without a doubt respirators are more effective when you're clean shaven, though I do get a pretty good seal with a beard. A quick down and dirty way to test your seal is to cover the filters with your hands and try to take a breath- pull in through your mouth pretty hard. You'll feel any leaks around the mask as the air seeps through. When I wore a respirator clean shaven I could not get any air around a properly fitted mask. With the beard, I can make it leak but I have to pull pretty hard to get a little air around the seal. IN MY OPINION ONLY, I'm getting a lot of protection with a beard because the filters flow enough air that I'm not creating leaks when I breathe in. With the respirator I can't smell any of the chemicals I use, which means (again, in my opinion) that the respirator's doing work for me. Another biggie is using the correct filters. There's no way to tell from your pic what your filters are, but the filters must be rated to filter VOC's and other chemicals. A particulate only filter WILL NOT do anything for chemical protection. I use filters that do particulates and chemicals, killing two birds with one stone. As a side note, N95 masks (which are dust only) do not work as well with a beard because there's no rubber seal. Some wood dusts make me feel pretty bad and I've noticed that a regular N95 helps but does not make it go away completely. Hope this helps!
 
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Todd in PA

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Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
79
Location
Port Matilda, PA
Thanks Chad.

I have just purchased a pair of 2296 Filters (3M, #60926) which will filter a lot more than what I currently have (olive-magenta, if you're shopping by color). I will do the seal test that you suggested with my current mask with the new filters and make adjustments until I get a decent seal. Upgrading to a full mask is going to interfere with my glasses, but is not out of the question if it's for my health.

ALSO, I purchased a 13' hose for my shop vac (and cyclone that my wife got me for Xmas :cool:). I have gone back and forth between running the shop vac to suck fumes and dust away from my face, to turning it off because I think the vac is just blowing fumes and small particle dust evenly throughout the room. With the longer hose I can pull fumes/dust not just away from my face but to the house exterior by placing the shop vac outside.

Todd
 

LK&T

Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2020
Messages
139
Location
Sedro Woolley, WA
Thanks Chad.

I have just purchased a pair of 2296 Filters (3M, #60926) which will filter a lot more than what I currently have (olive-magenta, if you're shopping by color). I will do the seal test that you suggested with my current mask with the new filters and make adjustments until I get a decent seal. Upgrading to a full mask is going to interfere with my glasses, but is not out of the question if it's for my health.

ALSO, I purchased a 13' hose for my shop vac (and cyclone that my wife got me for Xmas :cool:). I have gone back and forth between running the shop vac to suck fumes and dust away from my face, to turning it off because I think the vac is just blowing fumes and small particle dust evenly throughout the room. With the longer hose I can pull fumes/dust not just away from my face but to the house exterior by placing the shop vac outside.

Todd
Looking at the specs for the 60926 filters. Those look like the full monty! I use the 60923's and they do the job, but hey..... why not? Using those filters you should not smell any foul odors at all. If you do, then you know the respirator is leaking. Your shopvac and cyclone can be a great solution to help control dust and particles, but do nothing to filter any of the chemicals. In fact, if you turn resins and collect the "dust" with the shopvac/cyclone it'll stink like resins every time you turn it on until you change out the filter(s) AND clean the insides of the canisters. If you have any additional filtration (I have a ceiling mounted air filter) the same thing will happen.....don't ask me how I know. The shopvac could potentially help with VOC/chemical control if its exhaust goes outside your workspace. Otherwise, it's just being circulated around the room. If you can smell it, it's still there. Sounds like placing the shopvac outside is a good solution, but remember the longer the hose the bigger the drop in suction.
 

Todd in PA

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2021
Messages
79
Location
Port Matilda, PA
Yeah, I’m planning to see a loss in suction, but hoping it will still have enough to pull the vapors and dust. I’ll find out on Saturday when Amazon delivers.


I didn’t bother to research what chemicals I’m filtering for, and spent the extra $4 to get the everything filter. If all I need is the 60923s, I’ll just go for that next time. 😎

Also bought the dead and live 60s to figure out the whole turning between centers thing, so I’m looking forward to my weekend!
 

scoobiehome

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Jan 7, 2012
Messages
31
Location
Parkville, MD
Great discussion. I have not turned pens for quite a while (2015?). Really miss this hobby. Will be completing a graduate/master's program at University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 5 weeks! Can't wait to reconnect with some of my old hobbies. Have an overhead air filter and stand alone filter that I had used with hose attachment at the lathe. However, have a new grandbaby that visits frequently and I'm concerned about her exposure to the dust?

My dream woodworking space would be a stand alone shed/shop, not connected to our home! HMMMM.......
Renee
 

Mullanphy

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2021
Messages
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Location
Florissant, MO
Maybe read the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) for each product being used. Some of the Alumilite products are merely respiratory/eye irritants, but others are pretty nasty. Something else to keep in mind is that A part and B part each have their own SDS.

Most chemicals used by pen turners are, usually, nothing more serious than irritants but, depending on exposure time as well as amounts, just about any chemical can be hazardous. Underlying health conditions such as COPD, Diabetes, Heart conditions, etc., can magnify the negative effects of many chemicals.

As already pointed out, an improperly sealed respirator does little good, so buy a good quality NIOSH approved respirator, make sure it fits properly, and perform a seal check before each use (before opening the chemical containers or entering the space where they are already open).
 

pshrynk

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Dec 6, 2017
Messages
701
Location
Lake City, Minnesota
I looked around and found activated charcoal filters for my respirator. In another thread called Stank i am looking for an air filter that keeps my wife from shutting down my turning because of the fumes that get to the rest of the house. Good luck and have fun!
 

Mullanphy

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Apr 5, 2021
Messages
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Location
Florissant, MO

Honeywell HPA300 True HEPA Air Purifier, Extra-Large Room. Must be placed within a few feet of the project, but it is amazingly effective in eliminating noxious odors. I bought mine at a big box home improvement store, but they are available from many online retailers.

 
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