Would woodshop dust make COPD symptoms worse?

1 answer | Last updated: Jun 18, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

my 70 year old husband has had COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for at least ten years. It's accelerating. He retired and has started a hobby making "shop" items like knives and birdhouses. The power tools create A LOT of debris and dust. Should he be wearing a mask to protect himself from breathing in the air? Will this hobby worsen his COPD?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

While it is good that your husband has a hobby that he likes, I do agree with your concerns about the dust/debris possibly creating problems for his chronic lung disease. However, I don't think he needs to stop his woodworking, but I do think a mask would be a good idea to protect himself, especially when he is using power tools and creating dust. He should also be working in a well ventilated area, and do as much of the work that creates the dust outside, so he does not irritate his lungs.

Perhaps you can convince your husband to wear a mask when he is working with the tools and creating dust. If he complains that he cannot breathe when he is wearing the mask, then maybe his pulmonary doctor could help convince him. Good luck!