Asked on Mar 21, 2020

Why is it important to wear a mask when sanding?

by Liz

You said you had a bad experience from sanding without a mask. Could you give me any info in that so I can encourage my brother to use one

  20 answers
  • on Mar 21, 2020

    It is very bad for your lungs to sand without a mask. It irritates the lining and can cause “farmers lung” which is a long term condition that never really goes away. Short term it can cause a cough that will disrupt sleep at minimum.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Mar 21, 2020

    Hi Liz, I have had horrible experiences with that. I would just dive right in to my project. I was too lazy to just go and get a mask at times. within the first 15 minutes, I would get choked up .....finally go searching for a mask but I already was coughing. I would have a cough for a at least 2 weeks. My lungs are sensitive so this might not happen to everyone but it is enough to say that when you get dust in your lungs, it takes a while to be able to come back and breathe normally. this experience has changed me. I don't do anything now without a vapor mask!

  • I did not use one the other day because I could not be bothered. I woke up during the night coughing and spitting up phlegm that was thick with saw dust. Particles can be inhaled into your lungs.

  • Tell your brother that the sawdust that can be seen is the least of his worries. The smaller particles (less than 10 microns) can reach deep in the lungs causing all sorts of problems later on. Also sawdust can get into your sinuses causing a sinus infection.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 21, 2020

    Hi Liz,

    Here is a good link with a table near the end of it with various dust (organic and inorganic), the disease, and the lung reaction. I don't know what your brother has been sanding, but it can sure result in trouble for him:

    This link is about inhaled wood dust:

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 21, 2020

    I once had a patient who had never smoked, but, had lung cancer. He had been a woodworker who never wore a mask and the fine dust had affected his lungs. He died.

  • Em Em on Mar 21, 2020

    Inhaled dust can clog up your lung tissues. In the short term, you can become sensitized to certain types of material, and longer-term you can develop respiratory ailments and/or cancer.

    Coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, congestion in nasal passages, dry nasal passages or throat are all issues. Also you must wear the right one the right way!

    wearing a filtering face mask or respirator is only as good as the seal it has on your face. If you work in an environment that has substantial wood dust, invest in a NIOSH N95 rated filtering face-piece with two straps that go around your head an filters (as opposed to the dust mask) and remember any facial hair that breaks that seal will reduce effectiveness.

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 21, 2020

    Specialized sanding equipment and some sanding methods can reduce the amount of dust in the air, but anytime you dry sand, wear a dust mask.

    A division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, certifies that the mask will block 95 percent of airborne particulates when used as directed. You’ll get even more protection from a full- or half-face silicone respiratory mask that comes with replaceable filters.

    Vacuum-type drywall sanders, sometimes called “ventilation sanders,” can reduce the exposure risk of airborne dust by 80 to 97 percent, depending on the individual system.

    Switching from hand sanding to pole sanding can also reduce the concentration of inhalable dust particles. It doesn’t create less dust, but the dust is farther away from your face

  • Cindy Cindy on Mar 21, 2020

    Masks are vital when you do any sanding. Whether you are working on a small project, or a large one, wear a mask. Pass all of these comments on to your brother.

  • You definitely don't want those particles in your nose or mouth. Especially if you are sanding paint! Masks are in high demand for the medical crisis right now and I would hate to see one being used for a home project. He should at least use a shirt or cloth or something to cover his mouth and nose. Even if it's not ideal, it will help some. Hugs, Holly

  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom Holly Lengner - Lost Mom on Mar 22, 2020

    He doesn't want to be breathing in those particles. Our lungs weren't meant to take in all the chemicals and particles we expose them to now. He could at least wear a bandana wrapped around his nose and mouth.

  • Maura White Maura White on Mar 22, 2020

    Your lungs do not like small particles of wood in them! I can cause infection!

  • TheHoneycombHome TheHoneycombHome on Mar 22, 2020

    If you don't you will actually ingest small particles into your lungs. SO bad!

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Mar 23, 2020

    Lung issues are the #1 reason to wear a mask. Breathing in the fine particles can cause you to get a sinus infection and also makes you more vunerable for other types of respiratory infections. With the Covid-19 issue, you do not need to make your lungs easier to be attacked.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Mar 23, 2020

    So you dont inhale the dust into your lungs

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Mar 24, 2020

    I am someone who suffers from lung issues from years of doing projects and having a cleaning service. The particles from sanding are very tiny but get into your lungs and cause infections, breathing issues , and even COPD. I wish I had worn masks years ago but now I have asthma and other breathing issues from not wearing a mask for these type projects and chemicals.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Mar 24, 2020

    You can breathe in the small particles.

  • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Mar 25, 2020

    Getting those particles in your lungs aren't good -- especially if they are toxic. It's better to be safe than sorry!

  • Nan W. Nan W. on Mar 26, 2020

    Liz: Wear and mask and safety glasses. It only makes sense!