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  1. #1
    Designer steppinthefunk's Avatar
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    Health Hazards of Drilling, Sanding, and Cutting Metal Indoors

    Hello all,

    I have very limited space to do all of my tinkering work since I live in a garageless apartment. Right now I share a 2 bedroom apt with my wife and two cats where in which one room is designated as my "playroom". This is where I will normally do all of my internet surfing and bike tinkering.

    My concern is, I am constantly forced to do my dremel work inside my playroom since the patio has no outlets and is very dark (I do most of my work at night). Should I be worried that metal dust particles that might accumulate in the carpet will affect the health of my wife, me and my two cats? I always make sure to vaccum after working but it still worries me a bit.

    I am sure I can probably get an extension cord and move my work to the patio but it just seems to be such a hassle - especially since the patio is my wifes play area.

    Thanks for any help,
    Jason
    Last edited by steppinthefunk; 05-24-08 at 11:18 AM.

  2. #2
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    Can you eliminate the carpet and go with bare/hardwood/laminate/linoleum? MUCH easier to clean up.

    If not, then can you throw down a ground cloth when you work (what I used to do when apartment wrenching)? Easy to dump/fold up and put away when finished.

    I'd make sure the door to the room is closed (and, potentially, that the window is open) while you work, and until you've cleaned up.

    If not, then you should really clean periodically, including the walls, and vacuum with a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

    I wouldn't freak out over this, but I would take some basic precautions as a matter of routine maintenance.

  3. #3
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    Whenever you sand or work metals you should of course wear protective eyewear and it's advisable to use a good dust mask. I don't know if beryllium is used in some lightweight bike parts, but the dust is particularly dangerous to the lungs.

  4. #4
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    I've visited a lot of machine shops and I don't recall seeing any special precautions for working with aluminum or steel. Carbon fiber might be more of a problem. Beryllium would be a huge problem, but I don't think you will ever find that used in the construction of a bicycle. I'm not sure about titanium or magnesium. Machining magnesium would be a fire hazard a the very least.

  5. #5
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Luckily, no bike parts are made of asbestos. Or lead.

  6. #6
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    When working in a sensitive environment I always reach back to older methods using hand tools. It is amazing how productive they can be, in this case you would certainly need a well attached vise to gain productivity. If you could file your parts you would be a lot ahead. Sharp files that are properly meaintained, and tossed when dull are very effective.

    Anything you are doing indoors that a file, graver, scraper, saw, can't do is probably being done with a cut-off wheel or sandpaper, and indoors you might as well be sucking back aesbestos. It isn't the metal, it's the abrasives. There would be a cumulative health concern since any time that stuff gets on the floor it is going to be carried everywhere.

    There are also battery operated dremels. I can't vouch for them, but the effectiveness of battery tools is one of the big stories these last 20 years. That would get you out on the balcony for the odd dremel cut without having to haul a cord.

    Real machine tools like mini mills and lathes can be made to cut effectively without throwing a lot of dust around.

    One other problem with high speed metal work, or even metal work in general is that if you ever need an MRI, they will require a cornial x-ray, which is one part of you, that you don't ever want to x-ray. This is because the magnetic resonance can rip particals through your eye and cause blindness. So be careful with high speed metal tools. One hopes not to ever need an MRI, but you never know.

  7. #7
    Numbnuts
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    How often do you get sand in your lungs?
    Same effect on the lungs, and there's already plenty of that about the house.

    Happily for you metal is darn near the safest stuff around.

    You eat steel every time you cook with a skillet, and aluminum every time you make tomato soup in a aluminum pot.

    I've worked in a knife shop that produces ten pounds of steel dust a day. That would roughly an entire bicycle frames reduced to dust before lunchtime.

    Nice thing about steel dust is that it's heavy.

    Work so that your tools are not throwing dust directly at your head. Problem solved. A tarp on the floor will eliminate clean up.

    I do not use a mask when grinding steel, but that is your choice. You should have safety glasses.

    Use a mask when grinding large amounts of any composite, carbon fiber, fiberglass or plastic, that stuff can stay in the air more and can be toxic as is, or can degrade into toxic forms when heated or burned.

    Machining mag is not a fire hazard unless you let the shavings pile up nice and thick.

  8. #8
    Elitist Troglodyte DMF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    Sharp files that are properly meaintained, and tossed when dull are very effective.
    Toss? Do you own a file card?
    Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

    - Will Rogers

  9. #9
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    Metal powders can be very dangerous!! Look up thermite, Using an aluminum abrasive disc and grinding or
    cutting on steel (iron) will make a very fine thermite dust that if trapped in the carpet fibers and one day
    the right stoichometric ratio and proper temp spark and you Will have a fire A very hot fire that can explode
    if you put water onto it!! Keep a fire extinguisher handy, a dust mask, a scrap of linoleum or drop cloth and
    clean up promptly. A bit of forethought and safety can save you even from things that seem trivial at the time
    and not worth the bother. I like the sand/dust comment, Look up silicosis and you will have a new found
    reason to only breathe through your nose when riding dusty trails or working.
    It sure would suck to have your riding days shortened from a little dust or metal, Trust me it is NO fun not
    having your lung capacity that you used to.

  10. #10
    Numbnuts
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    Misinformation and fear about safety is the sort of things that bothers me a bit. I do hate to contradict people, but this case calls for it.

    Toofastgt, Yes, you are right about what thermite is. Iron oxide and aluminum makes a cool powder than when lit is hard to extinguish, because it produces it's own oxygen.

    I have actually made and lit thermite. You're going to need a thick layer to react. Not a sprinkling. A layer. Can you still see your carpet? Cool.

    Second, it's an absolute bear to light. Matches, gunpowder, blowtorches, none of these will work. I had success with a sparkler, but those things are HOT.

    You simply cannot light termite with an errant spark.

    You might not be able to light it in ideal conditions if you try.

  11. #11
    JBD
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    French Warmonger JBD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad01 View Post
    Misinformation and fear about safety is the sort of things that bothers me a bit. I do hate to contradict people, but this case calls for it.

    Toofastgt, Yes, you are right about what thermite is. Iron oxide and aluminum makes a cool powder than when lit is hard to extinguish, because it produces it's own oxygen.

    I have actually made and lit thermite. You're going to need a thick layer to react. Not a sprinkling. A layer. Can you still see your carpet? Cool.

    Second, it's an absolute bear to light. Matches, gunpowder, blowtorches, none of these will work. I had success with a sparkler, but those things are HOT.

    You simply cannot light termite with an errant spark.

    You might not be able to light it in ideal conditions if you try.
    you can use your pile of magnesium shavings too



    OT: what is a file card? I would use google but I'm too lazy imagine I would be getting far too many rolodexes
    I didn't forget to not add a sig. Here it is:http://www.milkyfan.com/images/adopt/coffeeandmilky.gif

  12. #12
    My bike's better than me! neil0502's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBD View Post
    OT: what is a file card?
    used for cleaning files



    Remember to use a file card to clean the teeth when they get clogged.

  13. #13
    JBD
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    Quote Originally Posted by neil0502 View Post
    used for cleaning files
    Thanks!
    I didn't forget to not add a sig. Here it is:http://www.milkyfan.com/images/adopt/coffeeandmilky.gif

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