I have recently discovered carving as a very relaxing and pleasant hobby. From small branches of wood I whittle hair-sticks with interesting shapes (the kind of object you use to put long hair up) with small knives and use sandpaper (by hand) of various grits to even out the shape, make the surface smoother and shinier. I like to do the sanding outside, but I do it in my living room sometimes.
I was never concerned about the safety of using sandpaper (at least manually) until I stumbled upon the subject somewhere on the web. Virtually everybody recommends using dust masks when sanding wood, but it seems that people generally refer to using power tools on large-ish things like pieces of furniture..?
I am generally very (and sometimes over-)concerned about my health. On the one hand the amount of dust generated by finishing hair sticks seems very much insignificant compared to what kinds or techniques of woodworking are commonly assumed, but on the other what do I know, really! I have been uneasy working on the sticks since I read all the horror stories.
So my question is, should I still wear a dust mask - or are my lungs damaged more by walking by a busy street for five minutes?