Air Purification Blog

Air Filtration for Woodworking Shops

Whether you are a hobbyist or operate an industrial woodworking operation, you will be all too familiar with the issues of sawdust and other by-products of woodworking equipment. What you might not be familiar with are the best methods of air filtration for woodworking. Even with the best woodworking equipment and materials, tiny wood particles (“sawdust”) will be emitted from the cut you are making. These particles are actually tiny wood chips that are created by the jagged teeth of a saw blade running through the wood. The type of sawdust you create will partly depend on the type of saw you are using. Woodworking produces both chips that break off small “clumps” of wood (these are a nuisance but not a health risk) and the finer dust particles that cause health concerns. The combination of particles you need to manage will depend on the situation. In fact, saw blades are becoming thinner with better technology and production techniques, making sawdust into smaller particles than what was experienced previously. As discussed below, this is a key consideration of air filtration for woodworking – it needs to be able to target these small particles. 


Health Risks of Wood Dust or Saw Dust 

Many conventional methods of managing air quality issues in woodworking involve the use of masks or mechanical vents with primary filters. These measures are usually accompanied by shop cleaning, and work okay at managing acute exposure or significant buildup of sawdust. However, they don’t manage the full risks of sawdust, which is why air filtration for woodworking is required. As advised by the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, the biggest risks from exposure to wood dust are respiratory (hence the need for woodshop air filtration). When inhaled, wood dust can cause irritation of the lungs/eyes/nose, shortness of breath, dryness, dermatitis, reduced lung capacity, swelling, and occupational asthma. Wood dust is classified as a potential occupational carcinogen. There are also concerns specific to different types of wood – for example, cedar is associated with asthma and inflamed sinuses while inhaling oak wood dust is linked to nasal cancer. 


What You Should Know When Seeking an Air Filter System for Your Woodshop: Other Woodworking Risks – Quality and Fire Safety

Notwithstanding the health risks, wood dust presents operational issues and fire safety issues. Operationally, machines run best without buildups of wood dust, and shop cleanliness will become an issue without mitigating measures. It can interfere with your other production processes, such as wood particles settling on your product during the application of a stain or finish. In severe cases, production quality/efficiency will become an issue. Lastly, fire safety is a concern when wood dust is not mitigated with a woodshop air purification system. When fine layers of dust accumulate on surfaces and remain to dry out or begin to build up in or around machinery, there is the potential for spontaneous combustion. There are many sources of ignition within a woodworking shop, such as the heat or sparks generated by machinery or the heat from the friction of cutting wood. Therefore, air purification for a woodshop is a safety concern for many reasons. 


Small Wood Dust Particles In Woodshop Air

To achieve clean air in a woodworking shop, Aeroex focuses on the size of the particles, their sources, and the available methods for controlling them within the layout of your shop. Unless you are a small hobby shop primarily using hand tools, chances are your woodshop has some machines that already have fume hoods and some central ventilation. If you do a decent job of cleaning your shop equipment, you may be wondering what the issue is or whether there is a need for an Aeroex solution. This is where particle science becomes important – your current methods are only getting the larger particles, and the smaller particles are the ones you actually need to worry about. The dust that accumulates on your surfaces is evidence that there are ambient levels of wood dust in your shop, and their small size means they can be suspended in the air for hours after you stop cutting. To deal with the health risks, you need an air filtration solution for woodshops. 

The average size of wood dust particles ranges from 10 to 30 micrometres, however many are smaller than 10 micrometres. These particles are suspended in the air for much longer and are not mitigated by primary filtration systems. They pose the greatest health risks to workers. These particles will be small enough to pass through the basic dust collectors that come with your equipment. Even smaller particles can be an issue when operations other than cutting take place – sanding of wood to make a refined, smooth surface can produce the smallest particles found in a woodshop.


Air Filtration System for Woodworking You Can Count On

Aeroex air purification solutions target the smallest airborne particles discussed above. We use multi-stage filtration techniques that target the sources of air quality issues. Our systems are designed to capture the smallest particles with the highest efficiency, and our made-in-Canada devices are designed to maximize the lifecycle of your filters (important given the volume of sawdust produced by woodworking). Typically, we focus on modular source control – by mounting an air purification directly to the source of woodshop air quality issues, removal efficiency becomes more efficient than if you had to purify all the air in the shop to get the same amount of pollutant. Models like our ARO Series are designed to be mounted onto your equipment. If ambient air quality is an issue without a discrete source of wood dust, Aeroex also has the ability to augment any existing ventilation systems you have with an ambient control solution. This can be an option when you already have some mitigation measures in place at the source, but wish to improve the working conditions across your shop. Given the various options and models, we recommend that Aeroex get to know your operation in order to make a recommendation about the most affordable and efficient options. To get started, contact Aeroex today.