is ipe sawdust toxic?

weluvnikAugust 3, 2010

Is ipe dust toxic? If so, what can we do to protect ourselves when sanding it? I'm also worried about it lingering and harming the kids.

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Depends on your define of toxic. Its not all that great in your nose breathing it straight in no. Using the sprit of a sound mind a thinking person sanding any South American lumber would put on a dust mask or better yet a bandanda soaken in water.

This is pretty much standared wood working 101 not just for ipe but any other wood sanding effort.

If you mean toxic like nuclear waste, or a chem spill from a plastic plant, or little kids eating lead paint chips. No its not toxic there is no lingering mist or ground poison involved with South American lumber sanding.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 5:56PM
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I have heard of woodworkers that had a bad reaction to Ipe dust. One used to work for me...for a short time. Some people can't handle exposure to any dust. I have been exposed to years of Ipe dust, and I haven't had any bad reactions. When I'm cutting Ipe in the shop, I wear a mask...on a deck, I never wear one.
On the other hand, scientists are working with lapachol as a chemical that slows down certain cancer and HIV cells. Lapachol is found in trees from the Tabebuia family...Ipe.
In some countries, Ipe trees are called Lapacho.
I'm not making this up...check out the link below
I like to think that Ipe dust is keeping me healthy :-)


Here is a link that might be useful: chemical properties of Ipe

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 8:56PM
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EXCELLENT question. there are websites that have the side effects/toxicity of different woods. I was frankly worried when I started using it the first time because I had a bad allergic reaction to tiger wood. Seriously affected my breathing. Happy to say - I had no issues with Ipe

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:52PM
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wow, very interesting!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 9:54PM
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Not specified for specie by OSHA but there is an MSDS for wood dust that captures"all wood dust" as toxic. Like the above masters stated, some are worse than others and some react differently to different people. An ounce of prevention ........

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 9:52AM
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All dust becomes toxic at cetrain levels. Back when I started as a carpenter they didn't know this yet and I developed quite severe allergies to the fine wood dust created by power sanders, which I used all day long. Went to doctors and was told the only wood dust that can cause allergies is Cedar. We never worked with Cedar so I knew this was simply not true. I started wearing dust masks or a respirator when using the power sanders, coupled with vacuum collection and got the allergies under control. Years later the "experts" have determined what we knew all along: breathing any kind of dust is bad for you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 12:34PM
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Thank everyone. I agree, better save than sorry -- we will be sure to wear masks.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 8:42PM
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I've been a builder for 15 years now and am in the middle of a good skin reaction from my work with Ipe this week. I'm glad I had my respirator on because it may have saved me from the hospital or?. My affected skin areas are in a state of rash and swelling 3 days since! I've had a history of seeing my skin react to "danger" so I'll likely do a prick test from now on when a new exotic species is presented for me to work with.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 5:54PM
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When I'm cutting ipe indoors on my table saw, I wear a surgical mask and a face sheild, and of course a vacuum system is a must.

Outdoors I have several streamers hanging around the job site which I check just before cutting so I know where the sawdust is going. If the air is stagnant, I put on a mask, otherwise I don't use one outside.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:18AM
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I've used ipe for many years and never wore a mask outdoors and no problems. Knock on wood.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:31PM
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I lost a friend to COPD a few years back. In his youth he purchased and renovated old buildings and never wore protection for the dusts he encountered. Not knowing will not remove the danger. I would consider it hazardous, because it is impossible to know in the short term what the effects will be 40 years later.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2011 at 10:37AM
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