Any Danger from Cedar Fumes
Issue: Issue 2.11
Posted Date: 6/26/2001
Michael Dresdner & Ellis Walentine
Q. This woodworker was wondering if there is any danger to the fumes created by cedar (he's working with white cedar).
All wood dust is harmful when inhaled (it has now been labeled a suspected carcinogen) and some people respond with allergy symptoms to
certainwoods. Cedar is among those woods that have a sizable group of folks who react badly to it. In any case, use a dust mask when sanding or cutting the wood with power tools. If you are not sensitive to cedar (that is, have no noticeable allergic reactions) you can work it with hand tools -- planes, chisels, etc. -- without dust collection. That's one of the nice things about scrapers and planes - they create chips and shavings instead of dust.
Ellis Walentine: I've never heard of any problems with white cedar fumes and white cedar doesn't show up on any of my lists of toxic woods. That said, I've heard that you can develop sensitivity to just about any kind of wood dust. But, if you had to take a chance, I suspect white cedar would be a reasonably safe bet.