When I was stationed at Fort Benning back in the Vietnam War days the high five greeting was “Airmobile!” or “Airborne!” The Air Mobile warfare concept was designed around the UH1B "Huey" helicopter, the workhorse of the concept. In those difficult years the 1st Air Cavalry Division and the 101st Airborne Division formed the bulk of mobile forces, as I recall. But I digress. That wasn’t the kind of air mobile threat I was originally thinking about.
Blacksmiths, by necessity are exposed to some nasty airborne particulates, coal dust, smoke from burning carbon fuels, dust from abrasive operations, finish and cleaning chemicals, welding fumes, and more. I was pleased to discover, when I started associating with this diverse group of talented people, that they largely avoid adding tobacco smoke to that mix.
Good ventilation is always recommended in the workspace. Ideally, masks and respirators would be as easy to wear as eye, ear, hand and foot protection, but that just isn’t the case. Even with doors open, fans can help. Every time, essentially monthly, I change the furnace filers on the shop heating/cooling unit it is impressive to see what has been trapped.
We are taught that some airborne molecules are more dangerous than others. Lead, and asbestos have been determined to be such threats that they are being removed from our US environment on an ongoing basis and not added anymore. Correct me if that’s wrong. Heating metal hardware parts can liberate zinc and cadmium vapor and heating copper alloys puts another group of potentially dangerous ions into the air. Pickling galvanized hardware helps reduce the zinc hazard.
Another potential concern encountered in gas forge construction is the refractory liner - both fiber blanket and castable materials. High temperature sealers help reduce shedding of particulates.
The health effects of many of these poisons and irritants are largely irreversible so appropriate vigilance is indicated. We’re all going to die of something but there is a lot of distance between our obligatory demise and suicide. Be Careful.
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1st Cavalry Division History - Ft. Benning, Airmobile 1965