When you want, or need, to know more than the superficial, such as when you are
where there is no access to a physician.
Prototypically: Medicine at Sea
This medical information is provided for education purposes only. I am making no attempt to practice medicine over the internet. This is being written to give some basic knowledge for those that are physically isolated from access to professional medical care, such as sailors at sea. This is to help in deciding whether an emergent medical condition exists, how to initially deal with it, and whether evacuation is needed. It is by no means exhaustive or meant to replace personal medical attention. Please do not contact me regarding your personal condition. Over the years I have received many emails from people asking for help with their personal chest pain, or whatever. Sometimes they write during acute pain. This is ridiculous. You can't practice medicine over the internet. If I find their email, after it has been filtered by my spam filter, it may be days or weeks later. My response, if any, will be to contact their regular provider. Even a bad doctor in person is better than an email. Please use this information in the spirit in which it is intended.
Sincerely, Mark R. Anderson, M.D.
my other interests
Toxic, Allergenic or Carcinogenic Woods
and Occupational Lung Diseases
May 1, 2000
There are various forms of toxicity caused by exposure to woods through dusts or by direct contact.
You can develop allergies following contact by touch or through the inhalation of dust. In other words, both large and small particles can sensitize you to the allergen. The reaction can be a skin or lung reaction. Skin reactions are generally itchy rashes. Lung reactions are generally chronic coughs or wheezing.
Other types of problems come from chronic exposure to dusts that are small enough to reach the small airways and alveoli. Dusts larger than 10 microns settle out in the upper airways. Less than 0.1 micron particles are so small that they don't settle anywhere very much. They go in and out. Between 0.1 and 10 microns they reach the small airways and some of them stay.
The risk isn't just cancer, but also scarring, inflamation and other damage, that eventually causes stiffening of the lungs so that the work of breathing increases. It's not quite the same as your typical smokers emphysema, but it's similar enough, and less responsive to treatment (e.g. antiinflamatories and bronchodilators).
Of course, woodworkers and boatbuilders can develop occur problems due to exposure to other materials such as epoxies and silicates. Glass, being basically silica, and of course colloidal silica, both could cause silicosis. Epoxies, particularly the hardeners, are well known as allergy sensitizers.
Asthma: Reversible airway obstruction, often with accompanying inflamation. Evidenced primarily by wheezing.
Bronchitis: Inflamation of airways (also not infectious here)
Bullae: Lung blisters - hollow areas that have no functional lung tissue and may pop, causing a pneumothorax.
Fibrosis: Scarring - leads to stiffness and impaired breathing
Granuloma: Non malignant tumors
Interstitial: The tissue of the lung that isn't the airways or alveoli. Literally, "between cells".
Mesothelioma: A cancer of the surface of the lung.
Pleural plaques: Deposits of material and scarring on the surface of the lung.
Pneumoconiosis: Lung disease caused by dust.
Pneumonitis: Inflamation of lung. (pneumonia), in this case not infectious.
Pneumothorax: Collapsed lung (partial or complete)
Rhinitis: Nasal inflamation, usually with a runny nose (rhinorrhea) and often with lots of sneezing if the cause is allergic.
Occupational Lung Diseases
Types of reactions:
1) Respiratory: E.g. asthma, rhinitis, mucosal inflamation
2) Skin and Eye: Contact dermatis (excema), conjunctivitis (itchy,
watery, red eye), pruritis (itch) and other rashes
Here's a partial list (somewhat selected for boat building pertinence) on various wood dusts that cause toxic or allergic reactions.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
International Labor Organization "Encyclopedia of Occupational Safety and Health"
"Sculpture in Wood" by Jack C. Rich, Da Capo Press, New York, 1977
"Toxic Woods" by Brian Woods and C.D. Calnan, British Journal of Dermatology, Vol. 95, Supplement 13, 1976
I'm afraid this list of woods may be incomplete because my sources are 30 plus years old.
Another toxic wood list
Originally posted by:
Andrew J Rappaport <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 24 May 1994 02:43:59 GMT
Gleaned from Usenet: Rec.woodworking
"I found the following chart in _American Woodturner_ June 1990, reprinted from _Art Hazards News_ Vol. 13 No.5, compiled by Robert Woodcock, RN,BSN, CEN. Thought the group at large might be interested, because some of these are surprising.":
1. Woods Toxic to Man_, author unknown
2. "Toxic Woods._,Woods, B., Calnan, C.D., _Br. Journal of Dermatology_ 1976
3. _ILO Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety_ 1983
4. AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, Lame, K., McAnn, M., AMA 1985
5. Poisondex, Micromedix Inc. 1990
Yes, I know this contradicts itself, e.g. "C" means two things, but this is the way I received the information. Sorry!