Tips for Clean Workshop Air
Before you start knocking out a few holiday gifts, take a moment to think about air quality
If you’re cutting wood . . . When you use a table saw or a lathe, “you need eye protection and a mask,” says Laureen Burton, an indoor-air-quality expert at the EPA. Fortunately, sawdust doesn’t stay airborne for long. To avoid letting it escape into other rooms, clean up with a wet/dry vac fitted with a HEPA filter.
If you’re sanding . . . Vintage and reclaimed pieces offer character—and the possibility of lead paint. Use a home test kit for lead before refinishing, or keep lead from becoming airborne by sealing it. Even if your flea-market find is lead-free, protect your lungs from fine wood dust by using an orbital sander that has integrated dust collection (shown).
If you’re gluing or sealing . . . Solvents, sealants, and other common woodworking materials—not to mention paint—often throw off volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Practice source control: Read the warning labels; buy the safest option you can find; and use the smallest amount you can, suggests Burton. An air purifier with both a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter can help. Be sure to follow instructions on filter replacement.
Thanks to Laureen Burton, chemist/toxicologist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.