So, I am no woodworker, but I am someone who has somewhat unrealistic fears of cancer.

Earlier this week, I drilled some holes in the back of my computer desk (made of particle board) to run cables through. Small thing, the holes are both a couple of inches wide, but today I read that particleboard dust can be very dangerous, and so now I'm wondering, how bad is particleboard dust to breathe in, if it is just a one-time, short term exposure?

I'll make sure to be safer in the future in researching what I do before I do it, but I'm just looking for some closure in the meantime.


  • I've cut particle board in the past and I'm still ticking! I've not heard anything that identifies it as especially toxic, no more that other woods. I would not worry about a one-off exposure, but a dust mask is always a good idea for any prolonged exposure.
    – Ashlar
    Mar 24, 2018 at 0:44
  • You have absolutely nothing to worry about from a one-time exposure to dust from particleboard, regardless of the type of board (UF or not).
    – Graphus
    Mar 26, 2018 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


The concern with particleboard is that that because of the large amount of urea formaldehyde adhesive used in the product, outgassing of formaldehyde was a big issue. This was quite the issue in mobile homes that used a lot of particleboard in it's construction. Great efforts have been made to reduce the formaldehyde content in many products including particleboard (http://www.sefalabs.com/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3394)

All dust is hazardous to your lungs but the dust from particleboard is not more hazardous that other wood products. It's not like it is beryllium (https://www.livescience.com/28641-beryllium.html). Hazards from dust are cumulative not one time exposure.


Go to the hospital right away if u cut more then 1 hole without resperation device on. Kidding, your fine. Long term every day exposure is diffrrent. No saw dust is good for you to breathe in the fine dust can get into your lungs.

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