Health Risks in Working with MDF

Written by ben wakeling
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Health Risks in Working with MDF
There are a number of health hazards associated with MDF. (Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a material commonly used for construction. Made from pulverised softwood bound together with resin, it is a popular material. This is due to the fact that it is cheap, easily cut and moulded and very versatile. However, there are a number of health risks associated with MDF, which should be prevented when working with this material.

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Dust

When MDF is cut, it releases a lot of dust into the atmosphere. This can aggravate allergies and asthma, and at its worst, can cause obstructive lung disease. MDF dust has also been proven to be a carcinogen, so anybody cutting or working with MDF should wear dust masks at all times.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is used in the resin that binds the wood fibres together to make MDF. If this is released into the environment through cutting, it can cause a number of issues when inhaled, such as throat membrane irritation. Prolonged skin contact with MDF can also cause skin irritation, so gloves should always be used when handling MDF.

Biohazards

As MDF is a wood product, it is the home to a number of organisms which can cause health problems if ingested or inhaled. Fungi such as Aspergillus, which can be found on MDF, can cause conditions such as Organic Dust Toxic Syndrome if inhaled. The spores of the fungi are released when the MDF is cut of sanded. In addition, fungi spores can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. Eye protection and dust masks are essential in protecting against the hazards of MDF.

Reducing the Risk

MDF should only be used as a last resort, and when it is used, the area should be cleaned quickly and thoroughly to prevent any dust or organic particles from remaining in the area. Workers should be well trained in how to use MDF and must remember to wear protective clothing and equipment at all times.

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