#SD0517 Sawdust and Wood Cutting BMPs

Sawdust, a byproduct of wood cutting operations, presents a number of health and safety hazards to humans and the environment. Potential human health problems arise when wood particles become airborne and are inhaled. Sawdust is a known human carcinogen and is known to cause severe allergic reactions. Long term exposure to airborne sawdust can result in significantly decreased lung capacity and other serious health issues.

Sawdust can also have major impacts on the natural environment. Wood wastes that enter aquatic ecosystems irritate fish gills, kill aquatic food sources, and destroy habitat necessary for reproduction. Therefore, it is especially important to maintain storm drain inlet protection on construction sites when sawdust is present to prevent it from entering waterways.

Using a saw hood is a simple way to collect sawdust for easy disposal and prevent escape of fine dust into the air. This will help prevent negative health impacts associated with inhaling sawdust and make cleanup much easier.

Exposure of sawdust to wind and rain should be minimized. This can be done by confining wood cutting operations to a designated area with secondary containment (for example, inside a garage or on a bermed tarp). If sawdust accumulates outside of the designated area, it should be swept and disposed of rather than hosed down with water.