SAFETY OF CARBON FIBERS
There are three areas of concern in the production and handling of carbon fibers: dust inhalation, skin irritation, and the effect of fibers on electrical equipment.
During processing, pieces of carbon fibers can break off and circulate in the air in the form of a fine dust. Industrial health studies have shown that, unlike some asbestos fibers, carbon fibers are too large to be a health hazard when inhaled. They can be an irritant, however, and people working in the area should wear protective masks.
The carbon fibers can also cause skin irritation, especially on the back of hands and wrists. Protective clothing or the use of barrier skin creams is recommended for people in an area where carbon fiber dust is present. The sizing materials used to coat the fibers often contain chemicals that can cause severe skin reactions, which also requires protection.
In addition to being strong, carbon fibers are also good conductors of electricity. As a result, carbon fiber dust can cause arcing and shorts in electrical equipment. If electrical equipment cannot be relocated from the area where carbon dust is present, the equipment is sealed in a cabinet or other enclosure.