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Hi Guys! I'm new to both this Forum and Woodturning. I'm going to buy my first lathe in a few days.A friend of mine told me that some of the more exotic hardwoods can be pretty toxic, is this true? Are there any that I should avoid altogether? Can a good dust collection system usually minimise the danger? Thanx in advance for all the expertise!
Your friend is right. Not only is it possible for some exotic woods, but it could be any wood. If you are allergic to a certain wood, it may not be the dust from that wood. IOW, sensitivity to a wood can be from just touching.
If you have any reaction to a certain wood, it will not diminish with time, but can get worse the next time. You should check the related or unrelated species to any of the suspect woods. They may or may not be toxic to you. For example, if you find a reaction to Red Oak, don't group it in the "Oak family" thinking that all Oaks are to be avoided.
Toxic exposure to woods can be very similar to chemical exposure in that there can be a reaction to the inhaling of the vapors, and/or direct skin exposure. You may find that you could be sensitive to one and not the other method, or both.
Protection and avoidance may be one way to work safely. Just because you don't sense a reaction to a certain wood or chemical doesn't mean there couldn't be a long term hazard. Most solvents are hazardous to your health, whether there is a reaction or not.