We might not often think of noise and dust being co-conspirators, but they do help each other to cause workshop misery. Dust, particularly for those that do much woodwork with power tools, gets everywhere: in the air, in your lungs, and in the belts and bearings of our tools. Power tools, like an orbital sander, a jigsaw, a planer, or a router create a lot of dust, and without good extraction (sometimes even with it) the quantity of dust that gets into our tool's workings is enough to cause big increases in noise levels.
Lots of noise is bad. As anyone who reads the FE blog will know, I am particularly fastidious about cutting down on noise (see for example, my quest for the quietest bandsaw
). I can think of a load of good reasons for my desire for quiet tools, but probably the most important, and one that anyone using power tools should take seriously, may be gleaned from the following:
"The first handicap due to noise-induced hearing loss to be noticed by the subject is usually some loss of hearing for high-pitched sounds such as squeaks in machinery, bells, musical notes, etc. This is followed by a diminution in the ability to understand speech; voices sound muffled, and this is worse in difficult listening conditions. The person with noise-induced hearing loss complains that everyone mumbles. High frequency consonant sounds of low intensity are missed, whereas vowels of low frequency and higher intensity are still heard. As consonants carry much of the information in speech, there is little reduction in volume but the context is lost. However, by the time the loss is noticed subjectively as a difficulty in understanding speech, the condition is far advanced." (p146 Engineering Noise Control)
Ok, so dust often equals more noise. How ironic that adding a dust extractor can be so noisy then. Lets leave 'noise' at that for now - for more noise related background and nerdy theory, checkout step 3. Dust is a serious problem.
Actually aside from helping along hearing loss, dust can cause bigger problems. At this point I am going to go ahead and assume that everyone is comfortable with the idea that dusty lungs are bad and to be avoided. The problem is most people don't realise just how dangerous dust is,
especially to us lone inventors, DIYers, and makers, who do not have the protection of government legislation, which enforces air quality standards* in factory and workplace environments.
At home, people tend to use cheap and ineffective extraction systems and/or pathetically inadequate masks (or no protection at all). I must admit from time to time I have been guilty of this, not wanting the noise of the vac or being in a rush - very bad! The precautionary principal should definately apply here. Particularly until you have finished your DS, a good dust mask, goggles and ear defenders are your friends!
For more info on dust and health check out this post on The Dangers of Wood Dust
and this table of wood dust toxicity levels
*It is interesting to note how these standards are constantly being raised, as more research is done on the effects of wood dust. See, for example, Jette B. Lange, 2008 "Effects of wood dust: Inflammation, genotoxicity and cancer"