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steel dust unhealthy?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Nebulae, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. Nebulae


    Aug 24, 2009
    Is steel dust bad to inhale. I was grinding out a blade just steel no wood or anything else, and i went to blow my nose tonight and my boogers were black and gritty is that unhealthy. I know grinding micarta, wood (especially stabilized) and other junk can be terrible for your lungs, but plan old steel? its mostly iron, and there is allot of that in the cereal I ate for breakfast.

    thanks in advance
  2. J. Rosa

    J. Rosa KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    I doubt you snort your breakfast though and if you do than you have bigger issues, but yeah I wouldn't grind anything without protection (yeah I know :D). Besides there are other things things in some steels like vanadium which can really ruin your retirement...
  3. R.C.Reichert


    Jul 26, 2008
    Always wear a respirator. Along with the steel dust are the fragments of grit that come off the belt that can get into your lungs and act like little tiny knives that cut up your lungs. Very, very bad. So often at my work I see the millwrights thoughtlessly using an angle grinder with the cutoff wheel to grind metal, but they never where a mask.......and they're concerned they should quit smoking. Grind for a couple hours without a mask, you may as well smoke 10 packs of cigarettes a day.
  4. Markous


    Sep 9, 2008
    Think of what the nose hairs and snot didn't catch :thumbdn:

    A 3M P95 or P100 (HEPA) disposable mask will keep the kleenex cleaner :rolleyes: at the end of the day :thumbup:
  5. Fletch Helical

    Fletch Helical

    Sep 29, 2009
    Yeah not a good way to get your daily recommend amount of iron. If there is one thing I've learned form this site it's that basically everything involved in knife making requires a respirator and it's effects to prolonged exposure is not healthy.
  6. mete

    mete Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 10, 2003
    Lungs want nothing but clean air .Spend the money for a really good respirator you'll be happy later !
  7. Patrickknives


    Dec 13, 2006
    We tend to think of protecting ourselves from things that have been labeled as toxic, while these do have know hazards there are alot of hazards which are not classified. All dust is bad for your lungs, each time you breath some of it stays in your lungs. Now its just a matter of how much for how long (black lung among miners). You will know when you personally have too much when you go to the doctor and he says there is nothing he can do about the chronic cough and blood, that is too much. Up until that point we just have to limit the amount of dust we breath every day from every source to the best of our abilities and desires.
  8. Bhamster


    Mar 27, 2004
    Yes very dangerous. Any dust/particles in your lungs are a bad thing and lead to COPD. In the earlier days of Pulmonology, lung diseases often went by the name of the occupation of the patient, ie. potters lung or brown lung, black lung from coal, wool sorters lung from anthrax spores, rat catchers lung etc. Stabilized woods ie/plastics are bad but so is plain old wood. Any particulate matter in your lungs is bad. My dissertation was concerned with outcomes in a Pulmonology department in a major metro hospital and I was shocked by the degree to which occupational hazards contributes to lung disease even in these modern times. This is often due to employer non-compliance with Osha regs, as well as by employee non compliance with simple things like proper respirator use. If you have any doubts check with any Pulmonologist and if they have time after looking at you as if you were completely brainless, they will probably have some pics or a website to refer you to.
  9. Bhamster


    Mar 27, 2004
    Just because I find the old names for occupational diseases so colorful and informative and because i lost one grandparent to black lung and another to the pathological effects of Chromium plating. I looked up a few in an old pulmonary medicine text. Before the age of respirators when it was typically a piece of cloth at most and more typically nothing at all that constituted lung protection, the following diseases were attributed to metal grinding.

    Grinder's Asthma-The aggregate of functional phenomena, induced by the inhalation of particles thrown off during the operation of grinding metallic instruments, etc. The structural changes induced are enlargement of the bronchial tubes, expansion of the pulmonary tissue, and phthisis. [Dunglison1874]

    Knifegrinder’s Disease- A form of mechanical or chronic catarrhal bronchitis incident to a knife grinder’s occupation. [Appleton1904]

    Knifegrinder’s Rot-Silicosis

    Siderosis-Fibroid phthisis caused by the inhalation of steel, iron or iron oxide particles. [Kober1916]. Chronic inflammation of the lungs caused by excessive inhalation of dust containing iron salts or particles. [Heritage].

    And remember when you are inhaling that dust from your grinder you are also inhaling the dust/grit from the belt itself being worn away and that leads to a whole slew of even more pathology most notably silicosis.

    Remember these are all horrible ways to die. It is a slow suffocation, where you can never quite get enough breath as your lungs become stiff and inelastic, covered in mucus and lesions unable to get enough oxygen to your body. I saw both my grandparents die from pulmonary disease as a child in England and it is horrible horrible stuff. Now these illnesses have more up to date names and some treatment is available but no cure other then transplant and all will kill you slowly gasp by painful gasp. I hope I made my point.
  10. Metzger_Siegfried


    Jun 12, 2010
    My teacher once worked in a foundry and he said that during this time everytime he sweated his clothes got black, because the carbon and stuff he was set out settled down in his pores^^ i guess it's the same with your booger, but i think when you grind a lot of steel and you inhale the dust you better should get some mouth guards. I personally don't work with such a mouth guard because either the steel dust doesn't get whirled up in the air or, especially when working with fast rotating tools, i use a vacuum cleaner to suck up that stuff or the cooling liquid washes it away. So maybe you don't have to use a mouth guard. But better be sure you don't inhale that stuff anymore.

  11. PropThePolecat


    Jan 31, 2009
    Invest in some disposable masks, its your health we're talking about and inhaling that crap is anything but healthy. Specially stainless steel is some toxic stuff.

    And remember to protect your eyes while grinding.
  12. Abrasive


    Nov 11, 2004
    Better yet, spend the $40 or so and get a cartridge type respirator a couple of sets of filters - I use P100.

    I like the 3M 7500 a lot. Nice soft silicone seals great and the downward exhaust keeps the fog off the safety glasses. Much better than the older 6000 series, IMO:



    and more recently I am using

    It is money WELL SPENT.


    PS - Not connected to that vendor but their prices are good and they ship fast. I will keep using them, for sure. I think I paid $28 for the bare mask at MSC... Oops.
  13. tattooedfreak

    tattooedfreak Steel mutilater is more like it. Gold Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Dont just get them, use them. Put them in a place where you remember to wear them each time. I hang my respirator on my grinder with my goggles hanging off of them. My headwrap sits on my gloves which is on any knives Im working on. I learned a couple of years ago that maybe I should use some sort of dust mask. hehe Got tired of blowing my kleenex black.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  14. Abrasive


    Nov 11, 2004
    Damn good point. I got to where I put my safety glasses on the moment I step in the door of the shop, and I felt naked without them. Even if I just go out there to look for or at something.

    Your respirator should be similar - the grinder doesn't go on unless you're wearing that thing. I have to confess I am not there yet, but I am close. A quick zip on the belt to knock off a burr or a corner, no I don't. But I should. I have a dust collector with a water trap and an overhead air filter and I can still smell grinding dust if I don't. If you can smell it, it's going into your lungs. And it's the stuff that's too small to smell that will REALLY mess you up.

  15. R.C.Reichert


    Jul 26, 2008
    The rather unfortunate thing about grinding with abrasives is that it does not come out of your lungs after you get it in there. You don't just cough it back up. The particles of silicon or diamond or whatever embeds itself into the tissue of the lungs and scars over, but the pieces remain there and they continue to cut up your lungs for the rest of your life. If I ground out knives for a few days without wearing a mask, just that will affect me 10 years from now, even if after that time I wore a mask religiously. Don't waste any time and get yourself a respirator.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  16. Dmitry.M


    Jun 13, 2006
    The metal and especially steel dust is very healthy, it is practicaly a vitamin. Regular inhalation ensures that you will die at your best young age nearly perfectly healthy. It also guarantee the cancer proliferation very soon after you start you daily inhalations. The same is true for the abrasive dust and several types of vitamin wood. Do not forget about the unique gourmey taste of the freshly ground steel dust, aroma of burning sander belt and beauty of shiny sparks. Don't miss it, enjoy!
    So do not delay your final visit to our Lord, inhale as much vitamin rich steel and other dust as possible, do not hesitate to sneese and cough. It is natural and perfectly legal and develops strong chest and abdominal muscules.


    For ones who did not get the message: it was a joke...

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