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tormentchris17

coal smoke and the affects on lungs.

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hi, i've been smithing for about a year. my detached garage is my shop. i have a rr forge with a side draft chimney. for the most part the smoke goes through the chimney, but sometimes with the doors closed it fills the room. when it does i try to open up and let the smoke out. it seems like there's always some smoke lingering around the upper part of the shop though. i have to admit i am a smoker too. it's winter in colorado and it's pretty **** cold right now. when it's nice i have the doors open and there's a lot more ventilation. mostly it's just my side draft. the reason i'm asking this question is because i'm getting a little cough although i think it's just from a little cold and probably smoking. my family seems to think it's from breathing in the smoke from the forge.i'm just curious to what kind of things people have heard and things that have happened to others because of this. can and do blacksmiths get the disease that the coal miners get? if not, what the *** keeps us from doing so?
thanks,chris

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Here's an old thread on the subject with some good info:

My take is that black boogers are always a sign that there's something in the air that your body doesn't want to be breathing. And hanging out in a smoky environment is never particularly wise, regardless of the source of the smoke.

That said, the concentrations of dust and pollutants that you're going to encounter in reasonably well ventilated shop are likely to be far lower than what coal miners experience. We're not blowing up tons upon tons of coal, then moving it around all day and stirring up all the pulverized fines.

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I agree with Matt. No smoke is good. Miners get black lung from coal dust.

As a former smoker I'd like to suggest that you give up the cigarette habit before you give up the blacksmithing habit. One is your friend which you can safeguard yourself against and the other is not.

Good luck.
Mark<><

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I should add that if you're worried about respiratory threats, welding fumes and grinding dust should be taken seriously.

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i don.'t think i could give up the blacksmith habit. it has a hold of me too hard. the cigs though, i plan to give up very soon. now, sooner rather than later.
thanks for the incite, chris

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Tormentchris
One thing you might try is instead of closing your shop up tight when it's cold try leaving a window or door cracked open just a bit rather than opening completely after you notice the smoke.
When a chimney draws the smoke up the flue it is taking free air from the space of your shop up with it. That air must be replaced from somewhere or you loose your draft.If your shop is reasonably tight that air is not being replaced fast enough, hence you loose some of your draft and the shop starts to fill with smoke.Also remember that since it is colder outside the draft should draw harder due to the differential between heat at the bottom and cold at the top.But once the draft is diminished due to lack of air on the bottom the colder air in the flue is heavier and drops down the flue compounding the problem. This is why it's less noticeable when not so cold.
Hope this helps.

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Well I'd suggest you try to work mainly with propane except in the situation you are at CO would be a big problem!

So can you "box in your forge" to control all the smoke and run a duct so that the refresh air goes directly to the box/blower making it less cold in the shop?

Smoking is doing enough damage that you really need to be careful of any more.

As long as you are not grinding up your coal to a fine powder and snorting it by the handful you won't get black lung. HOWEVER as mentioned any dust/smoke/fumes are a hazard and one that goes way up with smoking.

My GrandFather and my Mother-in-Law both gave up smoking cold turkey after decades of doing it, we buried them a couple of days afterwards. It's a xxxx of a thing to fight; but well worth the "cost"---and the money could go towards buying a powerhammer and other nice toys! (But it's real hard; I was at the death of my MiL from lung cancer---she had 12 kids, something like 32 grandkids and 54 great grandkids so we gave the hospital conniptions---when the nurse came into the room and said "everyone not immediate family OUT!" and nobody moved...Anyway I was there for her last tortured gasps and the Dr certifying her as dead and then *HALF* of her children went out for a smoke---then I *knew* that they did not have control over it, it controlled them.)

I don't smoke and have had a cough this winter---try to humidify the air in your bedroom at night and see if that helps.

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The lungs are designed to operate on fresh clean air. If you can taste it, smell it, or see it, it is not something you want in your lungs.

You MUST replace the air that goes up the chimney. This can be from an open window, or piping outside air into the intake of the blower (and a open window for any remainder air needed). If smoke gets out into the shop, ventilate the shop to get rid of the smoke.

Using propane to forge with will produce CO and you MUST have a CO detector to alert you to its presence.

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yep think about what you burn ,coal is something i dont burn ,used to untill in the fadeing light of my forge a million shards of glass in the smoke,nothing is safe in confined space unless you think about ventilation,use only charcoal these days ,still have a slight cough from twenty years of coal ,another thing ,never put galvenized steel in your forge ,evil gear ,take care ,glen

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One should, of course, strive to breathe fresh air and only fresh air.

Smoking cigarettes is vastly more damaging to the health than working at a coal forge. Depending on exposure levels, second-hand smoke can be more dangerous than working at a coal forge.

I usually wear an N-95 mask at the coal forge.

I've read nicotine is more addictive than heroine. I gave up smoking six times. The sixth was in 1992 & I could start again now if I didn't want to loose my wife.

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I read about a study of coal miners in Virginia, I think it was. Of the miners who smoked cigarettes, 97% got black lung disease. Of those who didn't smoke cigarettes, only about 5% got black lung. But mind you, I didn't read the actual study- this is just what I remember from something I read about 40 years ago, but I think the general idea is accurate. And I read that virtually all of the cooks for monasteries in Nepal get lung diseases from cooking over the fires. You really should have very good ventilation for your forge. I'm making a forge- should be done in a few days, and I'm getting a carbon monoxide detector- whenever the meter says there's carbon monoxide in my shop I'll know I need to ramp up the ventilation. Not that this is necessarily true for you, but a lot of "little coughs" turn out to be something serious, if the person in question is being regularly exposed to two or more sources of respiratory toxins.

No one- not even a lung specialist- can tell you with any certainty that smoking is worse for you than working a coal forge. People are far too individual to make a blanket statement like that. It depends on how much of what you have been exposed to in the past, and how your lungs reacted to it. But if YOU notice that you cough more when using the forge than when smoking, or that you cough more when smoking than when using the forge, that might be an indicator... I think you should wear a p-100 respirator when working a coal forge- it will remove all of the particulates that are larger than .03 microns. Take care of your lungs so you can keep forging!

 

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Theres lots of old stories about blacksmiths in the 1800's retiring without any of thier senses intact. Touch gone because of all the burns and callouses from the hammer, sight gone because of looking into the fire, smell gone from the damage caused by sulfur smoke, same with taste and of course hearing!

But I usually tell people you don't have to worry because black lung will kill you before all that sets in. Although to the best of my knowledge it's the coal dust that causes that. Smoke provides sulfur which isn't any better.

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Back in the day before all the safety acts by MSHA (mine safety health administration), Black Lung was caused by prolonged exposure of coal dust, which I have
been in the mines it is thick, you can wave you hand in the air and it will completely black. Several People in my family have died from black lung it is not a pretty
death. Today they have masks that kinda look like gas masks and the filters are similar to what you can buy at a pharmacy. Long story short it takes years to
develop black lung in that thick coal dust usually people that have been diagnosed have worked in the mines 20 to 30 years. Unless your shop is throwing coal dust so thick you can't see, you won't anything to worry about, although it is good to keep your shop ventilated, and if you would feel more comfortable buy a mask or tie a bandanna around your face and mount a fan in a door or window but do it in a place it doesn't mess with your draw. But like I said don't worry about it.

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When I started forging with coal, some time back now I used the soft forging coal that was sold by my local supplier. Try as I may, I just could not stand the smell and smoke of that type of coal. I know almost everyone suggested using that type but I gave up. Then someone gave me a bag of anthracite coal in pea size that they used when they burned coal for heating. Well, what a difference.....in smoke and stink anyway! none to speak of what so ever clean burning and HOT.....it's a dog to get going and it does not coke up but I have been using it just fine now for a long time and can do all of my forging as well as welding with out any problems....except a lot of clinker but that's a small price to pay for not breathing in all that smoke......just a suggestion.....hope it helps....Scott

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I'm with Glenn, pipe air in from outside up to the blower intake, get a piece flex tube put a hole in the wall or make a frame to close a window on ( to avoid drafts )

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some folks from IFI recently visited my shop and commented "the least you could do is have a fire going since you knew we were visiting"! Funny thing is, I had a fire going, but I have zero smoke in my shop. Reason: first, my flues are twelve inch diameter round pipe, which creates an enormous updraft, and secondly, when I am first lighting up, because I have turbines atop both of my flue pipes, they create negative pressure which creates upddraft

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so bottom line, both dust and smoke are not good, prevent them where possible, and hope for the best? 

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