In the past two years or so, we have seen big news about poisonous Melamine in pet food and in baby formula, both from China. Is this the same melamine we see used as a finish on particleboard in this country? If so, are we putting ourselves in danger of kidney failure by working with this material? I’ve never seen this addressed in any of the publications I read. Am I completely off-base? – Bill Needham
Tim Inman: I’m a woodworker, and this is a question for a toxicologist! I’m curious, too. I’ve eaten a lot of meals off melamine tableware in my youth. Hmmmmm.
Chris Marshall: Bill, that’s an excellent question, and I’m not sure there’s a clear answer about the long-term effects of melamine resin exposure as it pertains to sheet goods. Granted, we’re not ingesting it directly when machining it for a project, but trace amounts certainly end up in the air, in our lungs and by implication, in our mouths. I think that old adage “Forewarned is forearmed” is apt here. Wear a respirator or particulate mask when machining it or sweeping up the dust, and keep a fresh source of air coming into the shop. Treat it like any other potentially irritating or hazardous dust you don’t want to eat for a shop snack.