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  1. #1
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    Default Metal Dust Issues

    About 18 months ago the mens shed managed to pick up a 2HP, "made in Poland", used, metal dust extractor. It looks like a wood working dust collector but is has an all plastic impeller housing, blade and filter holder. The unit still had a plastic collection bag attached with about 25kg of metal dust in it, which we left behind. The air filter is a pleated paper filter type which was choked with grey dust, and although it clearly has collected a lot of metal dust it still looked in pretty good condition.

    Since obtaining the metal dust extractor we have not had anywhere to put it in the shed so it has been in storage mainly in our sea container and wherever we have put it, over time the air filter has left a grey dust shadow.

    Last Friday my conscience got the better of me so I finally took the extractor outside and took the filter off. Clouds of grey dust went everywhere so I put on a dust mask and tipped the filter over into a rubbish bin. More dust everywhere. Then I placed the filter on grass away from the building and tapped the wire cage side of the filter with a stick - more dust. Tipping the filter upside down so I could see inside it and saw that there was a lot of fluffy cloth fibres clogging the insides of the filter which I reckon were buffing wheel fibres. To loosen these fibres and dust I used a dust pan brush. This also released a lot more dust that got all over exposed skin and hair (as usual I was wearing shorts). Although it needs more cleaning I was getting worried about the dust so I bagged the filter up in a plastic rubbish bag and put it away.

    Within minutes of the dust exposure I started to itch (like you get from fibreglass) and when I took the dust mask off I also started to cough and realized I was breathing the dust in that had settled all over my clothes. I went outside the shed and dusted myself down which helped with the cough, but then I developed a light red rash like sunburn on my hands and arms. At that point I decided to go home and take a shower and wash my clothes. By the time I got home (10 minutes away) my whole body (even inside my jocks) was itching. After I took a shower I felt a lot better but I was still itching a bit 24 hours later. Now the rash and itch have gone.

    I know the unit had been used mainly to sand and buff SS but it is possible some other materials were used. My total exposure time to the filter (from taking it off the dust collector to bagging it up) would have been less than 5 minutes but it was not an experience I would like to repeat.

    The filter needs more cleaning but next time I tackle it will be wearing a full overalls, gloves, and my Triton full face dust mask.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Sounds like a horrible experience and judging by it I would consider looking into the replacement cost of a new filter and discarding this one as is in it's bag rather than risk further exposure to unknown substances.
    ..Live a Quiet Life & Work with your Hands

  3. #3
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    When I first read this I wondered what could cause a rash like that. "fluffy cloth fibres". Fibreglass was the first thing that came to mind, but it could be anything including asbestos.

    Dean

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DSEL74 View Post
    Sounds like a horrible experience and judging by it I would consider looking into the replacement cost of a new filter and discarding this one as is in it's bag rather than risk further exposure to unknown substances.
    I agree, might be better to replace then the clean.

  5. #5
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    Default

    The metal dust collector comes from a hospital auxiliary facility ( 4 rooms) for making supports and braces for ankle/knee/neck/shoulder/back etc. The facility was vacated several months earlier and our mens shed was invited to help ourselves to anything we liked. He picked up a heap of SS strap/rod and bar which is what many of the supports were being made out of. There was a large (5HP?) exhaust fan that vented the whole facility and the small 2HP DC was set up next to what had been a row of grinders and buffs (unfortunately not present) although we did score a number of polishing wheels and mops.

    It's most likely fibre glass bonding material in grinding wheels. I agree that we should discard this filter and will be recommending this to the committee.

  6. #6
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    Bob, a lot of surgical metal (if some of what they were making or modifying) contains cobalt, chrome and molybdenum. All of these as you know are potentiall harmful. I would be quite cautious.....
    Cheers, Joe
    again completely retired - more time to contemplate projects and spend more shed time....

  7. #7
    BobL is online now Member: Blue and white apron brigade
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhovel View Post
    Bob, a lot of surgical metal (if some of what they were making or modifying) contains cobalt, chrome and molybdenum. All of these as you know are potentiall harmful. I would be quite cautious.....
    That's It - its going to be disposed of.

  8. #8
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    I think that's wise.... if you can't tell what's been collected in there. Inhaling dust of some of the metals used in healthcare/medicine can be hazardous, even without considering the waste from nuclear medicine
    Cheers, Joe
    again completely retired - more time to contemplate projects and spend more shed time....

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