There are well published and disturbing facts and figures about the detrimental effects of fine dust created in woodworking, as well as the dangers of un-treated solder fumes. Whilst already aware of these things and taking precautions, the review of safety procedures for the new RFC workshop focused attention to specific dangers which in broad brush terms can be simplified to dust particles between 1 and 5 microns especially.

These fine particles can block the Alveoli (small air sacs at the end of each bronchial tube) and as well as bring on asthma, can also be highly toxic, especially dust from engineered boards such as MDF, other mineral boards and from exotic hardwoods.

Whilst we humans have good defence systems and our bronchial tubes are coated with cells that create mucus to trap much of the dust until it can be coughed up, anything getting embedded in the Aveoli spacs spell danger and typical examples of dangers to be aware of include dust from sanding and routing etc which contain very fine particles within the danger bracket of 1 to 5 microns.

What is to be done at a DIY or small workshop level? Well, what you shouldn’t do is to be tempted to use your wet/dry vacuum as typically all it does is trap the larger particles and blast the finer dust into the air from their exhaust, concentrating dust accumulation to quite dangerous levels if the space isn’t properly filtered.

Thankfully there are some good budget solutions including dust extractors from companies including Charnwood and Scheppach which cost around £120 and provide adequate dust protection for individual power tools or tool stations to a claimed 0.5 microns. Avoid the bagged woodchip extractors..they do exactly what their name implies but do not filter fine dust.

For your soldering needs, anything that sucks the vapours from the front of your face and filters them (internal exhaust) or extratcs externally will be adequate and many tool suppliers and ebay sell decent little systems for under £50.

Be safe, look after your lungs!