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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Thumbs down chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

Just wondering, since we have a pretty vast group here on the forum and in this section especially. Has anyone else here encountered increased allergies and reactions when undergoing chemotherapy?

Nine years ago some medical issues that popped up that called on (among other things) heavy dose of Chemo for 8 months. During that time my family decided to get me a golden retriever puppy (I hadn't had a dog for years, missed the companionship greatly) but couldn't keep him as one day in the house had me in hives and choking That my friends, sucked Never had ANY allergies prior to, Docs said it might just be a side effect from the chemo, happens to some people.

Fast forward to present, again I find myself having to do chemo. Problem I'm having now is I can't be in my little workshop for 10 minutes without wanting to claw my eyes out. Started about 2 weeks ago and has gotten progressively worse, FAST.

I've scanned through this

Wood Allergies and Toxicity | The Wood Database

and it would appear that just about every wood I've been using could be the possible culprit

Anyone on here have to deal with Chemo or just horrible allergies in general and found themselves having to stay away from certain woods?

I Have a few projects in the works right now and I'm currently using

Maple
Ash
Poplar
Basswood
Oak
Indian Rosewood
Katalox
African Mahogany
Honduran Mahogany
Spanish Cedar
Sapele

Any help here would be most appreciated.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

First: I hope all goes well and wish you good health.
Second: Have you tried working with a paint respirator on? Turns out that I'm allergic to dust, so I'm often wearing my paint respirator when kicking up dust. It might help ya.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

I can't say I know exactly what you are going through but as far as the allergies go, there are full face masks with air pumps attached to them with filters inside. They would cover your whole face. If you also wear a hat and long sleeves as well as gloves, you should be ok but be very cautious. Severe wood allergies are no joke. I've seen whole manufacturing plants in the hospital with allergic reactions. Good luck with your chemo and stay strong.

BTW, on your list, Maple is a severe allergen as far as domestic wood is concerned. You should also be careful of the EI Rosewood, Katalox, Sapele and Spanish Cedar.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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Originally Posted by j.six View Post
First: I hope all goes well and wish you good health.
Second: Have you tried working with a paint respirator on? Turns out that I'm allergic to dust, so I'm often wearing my paint respirator when kicking up dust. It might help ya.
Thanks man

I have switched to having the mask (respirator) on at all times since about a week ago, doesn't seem to be helping.

I have two large air filters going at all times on low, crank them up a notch if I'm sawing/sanding/routing/planing.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

Sorry to hear you're having to undergo chemo at all, that's not a nice thing And I also wish you well with your health, and hope that all turns out alright

With regards to the allergy thing...my best friend has stage 4 lung cancer. She's undergoing treatment - she has quite a bad rash and (if I'm not mistaken) finds that she's allergic to a lot of things now because of the treatment. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if that's what it is. As others have said, masking up is a good idea for sure I'm very allergic to Cocobolo, Pau Ferro, and Spanish Cedar (to a slightly lesser degree), and it's really unpleasant to work with things that you are allergic to. I found that when working with cocobolo, the mask wasn't enough. I ended up buying one of those sets of safety goggles that have the lip all the way around, to keep the sawdust away from my eyes. Otherwise it's awful. When finished a job, I come straight in and have a shower lol

Are you suddenly allergic to all of the woods you're working with now, or just a few?
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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I can't say I know exactly what you are going through but as far as the allergies go, there are full face masks with air pumps attached to them with filters inside. They would cover your whole face. If you also wear a hat and long sleeves as well as gloves, you should be ok but be very cautious. Severe wood allergies are no joke. I've seen whole manufacturing plants in the hospital with allergic reactions. Good luck with your chemo and stay strong.

BTW, on your list, Maple is a severe allergen as far as domestic wood is concerned. You should also be careful of the EI Rosewood, Katalox, Sapele and Spanish Cedar.
Thanks man

Right now I'm using a half face Respirator, think its a 3m 5000 (same a friend of mine uses at an auto body shop)
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

ANY skin contact would cause you to have a reaction also. Not just inhaling the dust.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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Sorry to hear you're having to undergo chemo at all, that's not a nice thing And I also wish you well with your health, and hope that all turns out alright

With regards to the allergy thing...my best friend has stage 4 lung cancer. She's undergoing treatment - she has quite a bad rash and (if I'm not mistaken) finds that she's allergic to a lot of things now because of the treatment. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if that's what it is. As others have said, masking up is a good idea for sure I'm very allergic to Cocobolo, Pau Ferro, and Spanish Cedar (to a slightly lesser degree), and it's really unpleasant to work with things that you are allergic to. I found that when working with cocobolo, the mask wasn't enough. I ended up buying one of those sets of safety goggles that have the lip all the way around, to keep the sawdust away from my eyes. Otherwise it's awful. When finished a job, I come straight in and have a shower lol

Are you suddenly allergic to all of the woods you're working with now, or just a few?
Thanks man. Sorry to hear about your friend, lung cancer's a tough battle, hope she's doing well.

I'm not sure which wood(s) might be causing it. When I get into the shop after work I tend to spend X amount of time on each of the projects, then dump the outer layer of clothes into a bag (Do NOT drag sawdust all over this house!!!! ) but because I tend to ignore whatever is bothering me while I'm working (or maybe I'm just an idiot, or both) I'm not sure what's triggering it. Right now there is probably a little bit of dust from all those woods lingering in corners and crevices, and being Winter in the Northeast US not the ideal time to just open the doors for a day
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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ANY skin contact would cause you to have a reaction also. Not just inhaling the dust.




Well that's not good
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Unread 03-08-2013, 04:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

chemotherapy can shift your sensitivity into hypersensitivity. In other words things that did not bother you before might start to cause a reaction. It would be best to avoid wood dust as much as possible until you are done with this round. Then gradually get back into a little sanding.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 05:13 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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chemotherapy can shift your sensitivity into hypersensitivity. In other words things that did not bother you before might start to cause a reaction. It would be best to avoid wood dust as much as possible until you are done with this round. Then gradually get back into a little sanding.
Sounding like I might not have a choice, but I have at least one I have to finish by May (promised as a graduation gift) and at least one other I would like to finish to help with the bills

This is really going to suck
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Unread 03-08-2013, 05:27 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

I have no experience with chemo (outside of it sounding awful... I feel for you, man), but katalox and I do NOT get along.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 05:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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I have no experience with chemo (outside of it sounding awful... I feel for you, man), but katalox and I do NOT get along.
Of everything I'm using (wood wise) that's actually the one I suspect the least, just cause I don't have to sand it or shape it as much as the body and core woods. But at this point who knows.

Would you mind sharing some specifics? Rash? Eyes? Choking?

I've used it a few times now and I really do like it as a fingerboard wood. I actually have a book matched top of this stuff set aside but Haven't tried to use it yet as a) a hear it doesn't always like to play nice with glue and b) it is ROUGH on router bits
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Unread 03-08-2013, 06:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

I hope all goes well with the chemo, and your health.

While I have absolutely no experience with chemo, and the type of allergic reactions you're experiencing (fortunately...knock on non-toxic wood), I do have a suggestion. If you could somehow isolate the various types of wood you're working with, and test each, one-at-a-time, you may be able to determine those you should stay away from. For this, I suggest maybe taking a small piece of each wood (again, one-at-a-time) into another part of the house...like a bathroom. Close the door, and begin some light sanding. See how, and if you react to that specific wood. Then try all the others. You may be able to figure out which give you the most severe reactions, and which are safe to work with.

Best of luck!


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Unread 03-08-2013, 07:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

God bless you and may better days find you. You could do your own little allergy test to see if it is a specific wood causing the reaction. Just apply a little dust from a single species to your forearm and wait. You may see a slight rash, or not. Just a suggestion. I had to do an allergy test a few years back because my work boots were making my feet and ankles break out in a super painful rash. They literally tested me with every component used in a typical boot. Turns out it was the chromium in the leather. Luckily that allergy eventually went away.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 08:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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Originally Posted by C Squared View Post
Of everything I'm using (wood wise) that's actually the one I suspect the least, just cause I don't have to sand it or shape it as much as the body and core woods. But at this point who knows.

Would you mind sharing some specifics? Rash? Eyes? Choking?

I've used it a few times now and I really do like it as a fingerboard wood. I actually have a book matched top of this stuff set aside but Haven't tried to use it yet as a) a hear it doesn't always like to play nice with glue and b) it is ROUGH on router bits
It may just be me, but both katalox and wamara smell and work very similarly, and both mess with my sinuses/throat/chest. If I cut or plane a piece of either I'm instantly sneezing and getting congested.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 09:22 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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I hope all goes well with the chemo, and your health.

While I have absolutely no experience with chemo, and the type of allergic reactions you're experiencing (fortunately...knock on non-toxic wood), I do have a suggestion. If you could somehow isolate the various types of wood you're working with, and test each, one-at-a-time, you may be able to determine those you should stay away from. For this, I suggest maybe taking a small piece of each wood (again, one-at-a-time) into another part of the house...like a bathroom. Close the door, and begin some light sanding. See how, and if you react to that specific wood. Then try all the others. You may be able to figure out which give you the most severe reactions, and which are safe to work with.

Best of luck!


Frank
Thanks man, and great idea
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Unread 03-08-2013, 09:23 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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God bless you and may better days find you. You could do your own little allergy test to see if it is a specific wood causing the reaction. Just apply a little dust from a single species to your forearm and wait. You may see a slight rash, or not. Just a suggestion. I had to do an allergy test a few years back because my work boots were making my feet and ankles break out in a super painful rash. They literally tested me with every component used in a typical boot. Turns out it was the chromium in the leather. Luckily that allergy eventually went away.
Thanks man. Yeah I'm going to have to just take a little bit of each and see if I can isolate it to (hopefully) 1 or 2 of the woods I'm using
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Unread 03-08-2013, 09:26 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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Originally Posted by BWGuitars View Post
It may just be me, but both katalox and wamara smell and work very similarly, and both mess with my sinuses/throat/chest. If I cut or plane a piece of either I'm instantly sneezing and getting congested.

That sucks man. Guessing after that you never tried working with Coco Bolo?

Haven't had anything with sneezes thus far, it's mostly been an itchy eye thing or an eye wheezing combo
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Unread 03-09-2013, 12:15 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

Perhaps wear a Tyvek coverall with hood to compliment the respirator. And gloves, too.
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Unread 03-09-2013, 02:43 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

@op- i dont know you personnaly man and i came by this thread thru clicking the "new posts" button but i sincerely wish you good health and stay strong
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Unread 03-09-2013, 04:01 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

Not sure if this is any help and it may be apples to oranges but, I was basically on a small oral dose of chemo (methotrexate) for about a year and had no issues with wood but, I still had somewhat of an immune system. I am still on drugs that somewhat whack the immune system and I am ok.

From what I understand, chemo changes you DNA or something to that effect. While I was on methotrexate, my hair color actually changed 3 times.
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Unread 03-09-2013, 08:36 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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Not sure if this is any help and it may be apples to oranges but, I was basically on a small oral dose of chemo (methotrexate) for about a year and had no issues with wood but, I still had somewhat of an immune system. I am still on drugs that somewhat whack the immune system and I am ok.

From what I understand, chemo changes you DNA or something to that effect. While I was on methotrexate, my hair color actually changed 3 times.
Methotrexate will shift your sensitivity downward as in less sensitive to things. Just like steroids. It is an anti-inflammatory type medication. So different thing.

this is all very tricky to solve on the internet. A lot of reasonable suggestions have been given and we all feel for you an would certainly like to help, even to do some sanding for you if your were nearer. It seems you are up against some deadlines and I can see you have a great attitude. So I wish you the best of luck.

You mentioned wheezing and watery eyes. Here are two things you can specifically do to help prevent those symptoms. Always wear a N95 respirator, the one with a little exhalation valve is best because they don't get so wet with the moisture in your exhaled air and lavage your eyes with saline when you come in each day. Always vacuum off your clothes at the end of a session.
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Unread 03-10-2013, 09:44 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

Strike 1

Honduran Mahogany and me don't mix right now

Took some scrap to work yesterday (away from all other potential dust I've been using and NOT in the house) with some sandpaper and had an almost instant reaction.

Tomorrow I'm bringing maple as these two woods represent a LOT of I'm guessing that we all use...
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Unread 03-10-2013, 10:00 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

Bummer! That's a biggie right there!
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Unread 03-10-2013, 10:26 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

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Bummer! That's a biggie right there!
Yup, there is still Spanish Cedar, African, and Sapele (love working with Sapele ) but I'm going to check maple next. If these two are out then I'm on hold for at least another 6 months
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Unread 06-10-2013, 03:56 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

I have one more month of chemo ahead of me. July 8th I'm done. Docs said to take a few months before experimenting with anything.

I've been able to sneak over to a friend's barn, where we dragged a few things outside on nice days (no rain, not too much wind) and with me all masked up and gowned up done some sawing and routing, a VERY little bit at a time (20 minutes and done) Doc wasn't too happy but I told him it really does keep my morale up, lets face it, this is very enjoyable stuff

Hoping come September/October I can start up again without any issues...

if not then I'm gonna do about 4 kits from precision to keep me occupied

Cheers
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Unread 06-10-2013, 05:50 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: chemo, sawdust, and allergic reactions

C-squared, I hope this turns out well.

I might consider some sort of positive-pressure full-coverage headgear (think a C-PAP machine on steroids). The positive pressure might help keep the dust out of your lungs.
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