Sanding a PCB - dangerous?

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by bumclouds, May 28, 2009.

  1. bumclouds

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 18, 2008
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    0
    Hey guys,

    I was sanding the edges of a PCB i made today. dust went everywhere and it smelt really nasty.

    I got it on my clothes and my skin and I breathed a lot of it in.

    How bad is it for you?

    Andrew
     
  2. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Extremely, depending on material. Fiberglass is almost as bad as asbestos to inhale. If in doubt, wear a mask.
     
  3. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
    22,182
    1,728
    It's really not good for you at all.

    Always wear some kind of protective mask when you're using a high-speed sander. If you don't have a proper mask, you can use an old undershirt that's been dampened with water.
     
  4. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    5,698
    905
    I agree that dust from sanding FRP is not good for you. There are data showing it is not as bad as asbestos. It is not a definite carcinogen and has not been shown to cause mesothelioma. Acceptable levels for the dust in air are approximately 10X (voluntary) to 30X (regulatory) the acceptable levels for asbestos.

    So, don't breath it, do wear a mask, but don't panic because of your recent exposure.

    John
     
  5. bumclouds

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 18, 2008
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    0
    Okay, so I'm not going to die in 40 years due to this exposure? :)

    From now on I will wear a mask.
     
  6. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    My Mom died a slow lingering death because of COPD, mainly because of maching fiber glass. The exposure was long term, and OSHA was firmly asleep at the wheel (assuming there were standards for such them, in late 70's early 80's). Most of the people in that shop died from something similar, or various cancers, so don't downplay it.

    Emphasis on long term heavy exposure.
     
  7. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    5,698
    905
    I assume you are less than 60. :D

    One thing to consider to reduce risk is to change the process. I suspect from your description that you sanded quite a bit of the board to get your final shape.

    You might want to consider ways to get closer to the final shape without sanding. Some people use small bench shears. With a shear, you can pretty much cut to the final dimension.

    I have been using a narrow kerf carbide blade in a small table saw. I cut about half way through from both sides, then simply snap the scrap off. I am able to cut very close to the final line that way, so any sanding for clean-up is minimal.

    Others report using a wet cutting diamond saw, like a tile saw.

    You can search for other ways on this forum. Cutting PCBs has been discussed several times. One thing I have found helpful is to include an etched space to outline the area I need to cut. That way, it is easy to see where the saw is cutting.

    John
     
  8. radiohead

    Active Member

    May 28, 2009
    474
    31
    Also remember to wash your hands after handling electronics, lead-based solder and rosin flux. Those things aren't good for you either, particularly breathing the smoke while soldering. Dremel tools work good for rough cutting CCAs, then you can file or sand (while masked, of course).
     
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