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concerns about black spit/phlem


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I have been smithing for a week or two with charcoal and i have noticed that my spit/phlem is turning black. (and nose crust)

I every time i "spit a loogie" its dark black and im pretty sure its because of the work im doing.

What i dont understand is how this is possible so soon? Im doing my work outside and there is plenty of ventilation....

I think im going to get a gas forge if this keeps up

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I have been smithing for about a month now, only using coal. I had some initial concerns, and like "symptoms", as well. I found that, at best it would last for a few hours the next day after I woke up in the AM. Also, I noticed that, being a newbie, I was "hovering" over the forge and constantly looking at the metal, fussing with the coal, ect. As I started to get a feel for how long to leave a piece of a given size in the fire to get it up to temp, started learning proper fire management and learned to keep my coal damp to keep the dust down, I have been having less and less problems. Im sure it is almost entirely due to coal dust, unless you end up downwind of the forge for an extended period, then I would imagine that you would get some problems from smoke, ect. Also, breath through your nose when right over the forge, those pesky little nose hairs actually due serve a purpose (helps filter out the particulates). YMMV

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You can smoke - just do not inhale.

The added color to spit, mucus, and other things is the bodies way of trying to rid itself of contaminates that you have introduced into the system. If you can see it, smell it, or taste it, then it is not the clean air you want to breathe. It has other stuff in it.

The way you can avoid many of the problems is to step out of the path of the smoke, or exhaust from the fire. Use a fan or chimney to move the smoke / exhaust away from the work area. This is true for grinding, sanding, and other operations that create dust or air borne particles. If you take precautions not to produce the air borne particles, then remove the remainder from the work area, many times you will not have to use a filter (face mask) to clean the air you breathe. YOU WILL WANT to use a filter (face mask) to clean the air you breathe if it is necessary or needed.

Personal safety is your responsibility to keep your personal self safe.

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Im using charcoal and there is little to no smoke and im still getting black stuff.

I think im just going to switch to a gas forge for safety reasons

More of a need for awareness than fear of health damage. I have a concrete floor and I use a propane forge and many times I can get the same conditions. Even welding without a lot of grinding I sometimes find it. There is no escaping a bit of exposure to the dusty dirty in ferrous metals.

I felt a little better when I once toured a cast iron foundry and the guide said only four out of fifty will die of black lung. Not a real sympathetic industry but at least the workers were very well paid. Fact is, you could hardly escape that molten metal smell even in the parking lot which means they’re all breathing it yet only a small portion of the population there dies early from it.

It’s actually a good thing that you noticed because now you can adjust your equipment, processing methods, and safety attire with the work activity. Good luck. Spears.
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It sounds like an exhaust problem, and I'm guessing you are working outside ?.... at least use a fan to blow the contaminates away from you, if you are in a garage the bad air will just swirl around and get into you. the amount of air ( cfm's ) the blower produces should be less than your exhaust, to have a positive pressure at your back ( when facing the forge )

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i simply cannot imagine how the four out of fifty folks dying in that place would give anyone any comfort at all! Eight percent died! And you may not have gotten the true value of wot is really going on..They said those numbers are from black lung. My guess is they omitted other ailments that may have not only caused additional deaths over and above the eight percent. But they likely omitted other issues like folks with lung disease that may not have caused death but left them incapacitated to the point of misery for how ever long the were able to survive if you can call it that. And folks with lung issues almost alway have heart issues!
The important thing to read into this thread is that black boogers means you are inhaling things that may be toxins. In fact most likely. How they wil affect you is individual. When we rest at sleep our body has pretective tissues that work out things we coulnot have inhaled and it presents itself the next day. Wot we do aboiut that is an individual choice. Thomas makes a good point about the solid fuels being easier to see as we repel wot we can..Gassers not so much. A CO detector in the shop may help a bit with that. Research all you can about the dangeers of anything youi have in your shop if you wish to be able to find solutions to the dangers lot of things produce.

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It’s a wonder that we ever got through the industrial revolution without killing all the blacksmiths and metal workers in a matter of weeks due to dark colored ‘loogies’ . Wear a mask or give up blacksmithing if you are that concerned that when you blow your nose or spit you see some junk in it. Blacksmithing is a dirty vocation.

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Its just charcoal: its not bad for you. At least, not any worse than MOST people throw in fires and breathe in. Consider that its all natural, and people have lived with fire since the dawn of time, and sure a lot of people get black snot... talk to a boy scout after a summer camp. There will be plenty of evidence that it is not harmful.

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wood is an organic material, which, when made into charcoal, is freed from any volatile matter and any impurities which it has in it. If the charcoal is burned, then the worst that it can do is cause athsma attacks and aggrivate sensitive tissue. No real health danger for a good, strong, thinking individual. I would advise against breathing plumes of it in, but any burning material is going to give off some sort of fume, smoke or something of the like. I guess all I'm trying to say is that it is no more dangerous than any other fuel, and it shouldn't be considered hazardous. Just my .02, though. :)

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Data http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9923389
The information in m s d s sheets on almost any material is condiered when dealing with issues considered a hazard, They detail wot the hazard is and wo t it can do to poeple and how. In this case it says charcoal is toxic to mucous membranes and may also be to lungs. And thta takes us back to the beginning of this thread, the black spit or snot is a way the body is dealing with something it does not wish to keep.

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When you burn the volatiles off wood, you do not get rid of all the volatiles, and certainly do not get rid of all of the impurities which form ash at the completion of the burn.

To go a step further, coal is formed by organic matter, Coal seams are fossilized accumulations of plants which lived and died in swamps that were so devoid of oxygen that few microbes or other critters could survive to feed on their remains. Reference http://www.iforgeiro...h&fromMainBar=1

Trace Elements in West Virginia Coals
Antimony (Sb) Erbium (Er) Manganese (Mn) Tantalum (Ta) Arsenic (As) Europium (Eu) Mercury (Hg) Tellurium (Te) Barium (Ba) Fluorine (F) Molybdenum (Mo) Terbium (Tb) Beryllium (Be) Gadolinium (Gd) Neodymium (Nd) Thallium (Tl) Bismuth (Bi) Gallium (Ga) Nickel (Ni) Thorium (Th) Boron ( Germanium (Ge) Niobium (Nb) Thulium ™ Bromine (Br) Gold (Au) Praseodymium (Pr) Tin (Sn) Cadmium (Cd) Hafnium (Hf) Rhenium (Re) Tungsten (W) Cerium (Ce) Holmium (Ho) Rubidium (Rb) Uranium (U) Cesium (Cs) Indium (In) Samarium (Sm) Vanadium (V) Chlorine (Cl) Iridium (Ir) Scandium (Sc) Ytterbium (Yb) Chromium (Cr) Lanthanum (La) Selenium (Se) Yttrium (Y) Cobalt (Co) Lead (Pb) Silver (Ag) Zinc (Zn) Copper (Cu) Lithium (Li) Strontium (Sr) Zirconium (Zr) Reference . http://www.iforgeiro...h&fromMainBar=1

No real health danger for a good, strong, thinking individual.

A thinking individual must have experience, or have knowledge, or be told of the hazards. Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, smoke, fly ash, and other by products of compustion should be avoided. The more you avoid the less you inhale, and the less the body has to do to get rid of the foreign material.

We are picking at details, which as Rich said takes us back to the original post.
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THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION of wood cannot be defined precisely for a given tree species or even for a given tree. Chemical composition varies with tree part (root, stem, or branch), type of wood (i. e., normal, tension, or compression) geographic location, climate, and soil conditions. Analytical data accumulated from many years of work and from many different laboratories have helped to define average expected values for the chemical composition of wood. Ordinary chemical analysis can distinguish between hardwoods (angiosperms) and softwoods (gymnosperrns).

There are two major chemical components in wood: lignin (18– 35%) and carbohydrate (65– 75%). Both are complex, polymeric materials. Minor amounts of extraneous materials, mostly in the form of organic extractives and inorganic minerals (ash), are also present in wood (usually 4– 10%). Overall, wood has an elemental composition of about 50% carbon, 6% hydrogen, 44% oxygen, and trace amounts of several metal ions.

Reference http://www.fpl.fs.fe...84/pette84a.pdf

FINAL Report on Carcinogens Background Document for Wood Dust
Not that it is directly related, but interesting just the same.

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There are many woods that can be toxic to humans depending on a person’s physiology and length of exposure. They can cause skin and eye allergies and/or respiratory infections and reactions.

Arbor vitae (Thuja standishii)
Ayan (Distemonanthus benthamianus)
Blackwood, African (Dalbergia melanoxylon)
Boxwood, Knysna (Gonioma kamassi)
Cashew (Anacardium occidentale)
Cedar, Western red (Thuja plicata)
Cocobolo (Dalbergia retusa)
Cocus (Brya ebenus)
Dahoma (Piptadeniastrum africanum)
Ebony (Diospyros)
Greenheart (Ocotea rodiaei)
Guarea (Guarea thompsonii)
Ipe [lapacho] (Tabebuia ipe)
Iroko (Chlorophora excelsa)
Katon (Sandoricum indicum)
Mahogany, African (Khaya ivorensis)
Mahogany, American (Swietenia macrophylla)
Makore (Tieghemella beckelii)
Mansonia (Mansonia altissima)
Obeche (Triplochiton scleroxylon)
Opepe (Nauclea trillesii)
Peroba rosa (Aspidosperma peroba)
Peroba, white (Paratecoma peroba)
Ramin (Gonystylus bancanus)
Rosewood, Brazilian (Dalbergia nigra)
Rosewood, East Indian (Dalbergia latifolia)
Satinwood, Ceylon (Chloroxylon swietenia)
Satinwood, West Indian (Fagara flava)
Sequoia Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)
Sneezewood (Ptaeroxylon obliquum)
Stavewood (Dysoxylum muelleri)
Sucupira (Bowdichia nitida)
Teak (Tectona grandis)
Wenge (Millettia laurentit)
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

A lot of woodturners have learned this the hard way.

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Nothing is 100% safe. You owe it to yourself, those who love and depend on you, and especially those who will have to take care of you later: to know and understand the risks of whatever you do, and try to minimize the effects of them!!

That macho man BS is fine when you are 20, but is a drag later in life. Conan was wrong: that which does not kill you, gives you scars that you will carry for the rest of your life. All damage is cumulative, if you live long enough, something will catch up to you.

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There seems to be a misnoma "if it's organic/natural etc. it's OK/good for you!!!!!
Mamba venon & box jellyfish venom are both organic and natural however either of these could sort of "wreck an otherwise perfectly good day"

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i use a netti pot every day and find helps clear out all the black gunk.i use for my sinus problems and found to work well to clear out lots of other stuf breathed in.i use body temp cooled boiled water salt with NO ant caking agent,i won't go in to cold air or lie down for a bit after use.

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Please show me the evidence.

Alright, Glenn. Here's the evidence.


Oops, this well cited article tends to support your position. Natural is not necessarily good. Hmm, "smoke ravaged lungs." Sounds unpleasant. Time to change my position.
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As I said, you can smoke just do not inhale.

Even outside, stay out of the smoke or exhaust from the forge. Make sure you do something to remove the smoke from the work area. This can be a chimney, wind brake, fan etc.

One of the easiest ways is to set a fan to blow shoulder to shoulder across your body. If you blow front to back or back to front the wind and smoke will eddy next to your body.

Set a strong fan horizontally and next to the forge table blowing up. This will act as a chimney and move the smoke up into the air and away from the work area. I use a whole house squirrel cage fan and it works very well, almost as good as the chimney.

No matter what you do, wind currents will at times move the smoke into the work area. In that instance, just take a couple of steps to get out of the smoke and wait for the smoke to clear. Notice any buildings, trees, or other objects that may be causing the smoke to be in the work area. You may need to move the forge to another location, or move just far enough so the objects and the smoke no longer affect your work area.

A window fan with a furnace filter attached will clean a lot of the dust and particulate matter out of the shop air as well as stir the air on a hot day.

The entire thread is a good read, and picks at the details of what may be in the smoke, air, etc you breathe. The body is sending you a black flag (pun intended) telling you there is a problem. Fix the problem, take a deep breath and get back to forging.

evfreek: References are always good as it brings new material into the discussion.

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