MDF, Medium Density Fibreboard
I have been sawing up and planing a few sheets of MDF recently and even though I have used a decent enough dust mask, one with two replaceable filter cartridges, I have noticed a fair bit of throat irritation.
I have been using it in the plain form "Lamipanel", "Craftwood", "Customwood", and the melamine coated sheets from various manufacturers for years. It is fairly cheap and easy to use. The only real material for cost effective wardrobes and kitchen cupboards.
Except that I believe out of the many materials we use in home renovations etc. MDF is fairly high on the scale of things we should take special thought about when we are using it.
About 15 years ago we installed these 600 dia. rotary air vents to this warehouse roof. The company that was leasing the place were selling panel products, mainly MDF. I assumed that the new vents were to remove the hot air and cool the place down. That the existing passive ridge wasn't doing enough.
I left Poul on the job to start cutting the holes in the roof and I went to get some more materials. When I returned Poul was sitting down with his head in his hands. He felt sick. It took him an hour or so to recover. By way of explanation he said to me "stick your head over one of the holes".
I could not believe the fumes coming out of that roof, an intense smell of Formaldehyde. Any sort of lingering over the holes caused watery eyes and coughing.
We finished the job, very
slowly, and got paid, but it would be a different story today.
Exactly the same policy that the parent company, a huge multinational, had to the public at large!
Since that time I have thought a lot more about safety on the job. I don't like leaving guys working on their own. Certainly on roofs. Accidents can come out of the blue. I was lucky that day that nothing serious happened.
So, don't let me stop you using MDF. I still use it.
This was an extreme example, material straight from the factory and concentrated in a confined roof space.
Just be aware that there are safety concerns with it. As the old saying goes, "forewarned is forearmed"
Before I started writing this I did a quick Google to check out MDF and to find out if it was indeed formaldehyde that I remember smelling. It sure
was. Also that formaldehyde is lighter than air and so was
concentrated at the top of the roof where we were cutting the holes.
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