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Old 10-30-2006, 07:24 PM   #1
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Default carbon fibre dust

Can someone advise me as the nature of the hazard of dust from sanding or machining carbon fibre composites and what the specific concern is? I can't find much literature outside of the odd commment like "its deadly". How carefull does one have to be to drill a hole or sand an edge smooth? Is it inhalation that is the concern? Is it a carcinogen, or simply an irritant?
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Old 10-30-2006, 08:27 PM   #2
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I think it is an irritant and you should probably wear a gas mask and goggles just to be safe.
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Old 10-30-2006, 09:11 PM   #3
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IIRC, it's carcinogenic. not a whole lot of difference from say .. asbestos?
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Old 10-30-2006, 09:55 PM   #4
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Here is the complete text from OSHA manual:

Carbon/graphite fibers dominate the advanced composites industry and may be made from any of three precursors, as discussed in Section C. However, the PAN-based carbon fibers are the predominant form in use today. It is important to ascertain which type of carbon-fiber precursor is used in order to evaluate the hazards.

Pitch-based carbon fibers may be associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, although the evidence is weak. PAN-based carbon fibers did not cause tumors when the same test was conducted. Standard mutagenicity tests conducted on PAN-based carbon fibers were negative.

The principal hazards of carbon-fiber handling are mechanical irritation and abrasion similar to that of glass fibers. Skin rashes are common and reportedly more severe than from glass fibers. Carbon fibers commonly in use are also greater than six micrometers in diameter, making them unlikely to be respirable. An ongoing survey of workers in a carbon-fiber production plant shows no pulmonary function abnormalities and no evidence of dust-related disease.

Carbon fibers may be coated with a material to improve handling, known generically as sizing. The sizing materials are typically epoxy resins. They may be biologically active and cause irritation or sensitization.


So to paraphrase, workers in carbon-fibre production plant showed no pulmonary function abnormalities or evidence of dust related disease. Out of curiousity, I'm trying to find out where the evidence is that they pose a significant risk. I'd certainly avoid breathing in the dust, but am wondering where the evidence is of their deadly effects. Or is it wise speculation?
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:12 AM   #5
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It's not the fibers themselves... it's the resin used in the matrix that tends to be more harmful.
Not sure what is used in current lay-ups, more than likely epoxy, although polyester and vinylester may also be used.

Best advise is simply wear a mask (nothing too fancy, one of the paper ones) and some goggles. More out of comfort than anything else.

Oh and some good extraction stops getting your bed roo... err I mean Work area ( ) dirty.

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Old 10-31-2006, 05:50 AM   #6
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I also take my laptop out of the room, I guess carbon dust is a bad thing around such equipment.
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