Electronic – What are the dangers of cutting PCB with Dremel


I'm cutting PCB's with a Dremel. Works really fine at high speed and with the finest cutting wheel. Can get really nice and clean results.

There's a lot of project and dust so I place next to my third hand a large PC fan at maximum speed oriented to the opposite of me, wear protection glasses for projection and a 3M dust mask for dusts.

But after the cutting there's still a freaking smell in the room and some dust floating in the air.

Are these dangerous? Should I quit and ventilate the room for 15 minutes before continuing to work? I don't know the composition of PCB and I'm asthmatic so…

Best Answer

I found a MSDS datasheet for FR-4 material, which is commonly used in PCBs.


Machining, grinding or sawing this material may generate harmful dusts. Continuous filament glass fiber is not considered flbrogenic; however, it Is woven from E-Glass fibers which are listed by IARC as "special purpose glass fibers" and designated as "possibility of carcinogenic in human.” Inhalation of copper fumes, while not expected to occur under typical conditions of use, may cause metal fume fever. See Section 8 for exposure controls.

The cited section 8 says:

ENGINEERING CONTROLS: Use local exhaust when machining, grinding or sanding to minimize exposures and maintain airborne dust and fiber concentrations below occupational exposure limits.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: RESPIRATORY PROTECTION: In the absence of adequate general or local ventilation, use a NIOSH-or local authority-approved respirator with at least an N95 filter if exposure limits are exceeded.

SKIN PROTECTION: Wear gloves during prolonged contact to avoid skin Irritation from dust.

EYE PROTECTION: Use safety glasses or a face shield when machining, grinding or sawing this material.

So, by using a mask and fan, you've likely kept yourself reasonably safe. You might want to consider getting an electronics-grade vacuum cleaner that meets N95 to collect and contain dust that otherwise may escape into the air.