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  1. #1

    Are Metal Shavings / Dust Hazardous?

    I am a summer intern for a metal fabrication company that manufactures doors. I work in a warehouse-type environment with cutting machines and CNC machines that are used to cut the metal. As a CNC machine operator, should I be concerned about breathing in the air? I have asked my mentor and he does not think there are any severe concerns besides some allergies such as sneezing (I have noticed my allergies worsening).

    There is also no symbol indicating for a the use of respirators on the CNC machine itself. It only indicates safety goggles, gloves, and a helmet, all of which all employees wear.

    I will be using a basic dust mask today to see if it helps with the allergies. Is a dust mask enough for this type of work? What other types of masks should I I consider?

  2. #2
    Registered
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    Apr 2005
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    478

    Re: Are Metal Shavings / Dust Hazardous?

    The state of CA states that virtually everything causes cancer - look for the warnings in all you tooling catalogs and websites.

    Chris D

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    271

    Re: Are Metal Shavings / Dust Hazardous?

    Your lungs are designed to process air and not a lot else (maybe a bit of natural dust etc). You do not specify what material is being processed but be aware any composite materials (MDF, chip-board, plywood) containing bonding chemicals (glues) are far worse than natural materials such as real timbers. It's unlikely humans were designed to inhale metal based particles. Most wood processing machinery instruction manuals warn to wear breathing protection, especially those that produce fine dust particles such as sanding equipment.

    Wear breathing protection.

  4. #4
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    Re: Are Metal Shavings / Dust Hazardous?

    Metal shavings - Probably not since these are not airborne particles.

    Metal dust - Most definitely can be. For example Cadmium which is plating found on a lot of bolts is a carcinogen and OSHA has specific requirements for welding, cutting, grinding, etc . Also lungs are made to process air, not dust of any kind. If you are concerned then wearing a dust mask is probably prudent.

    https://www.thelunghealthinstitute.c...-dust-hurt-you

  5. #5
    Gold Member
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    Re: Are Metal Shavings / Dust Hazardous?

    Are they cutting wet with coolant, or dry. Are the doors just plain steel, already primed/painted or another rust preventative coating? Plain steel chip hazard is pretty much just skin abrasion.

  6. #6

    Re: Are Metal Shavings / Dust Hazardous?

    Thanks for the replies. I wore a respirator today and have to say that my allergies are definitely much better. I am not sneezing and sniffling like crazy after work.

    My mentor said nothing is airborne which is why he thought that the air wouldn't be harmful. Yes, we do use coolants while machining.

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Jun 2010
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    3729

    Re: Are Metal Shavings / Dust Hazardous?

    Metal is not a hazard (with obvious exceptions such as cadmium etc).

    But those coolant oils are a KNOWN hazard. They cause dermatitis with skin contact; I would imagine the vapours are also a hazard. The bacterial growth they develop may be even worse.
    I switched to MQL using, basically, olive oil. A 1 L bottle lasts me for years.

    Cheers
    Roger

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