I live in a town with a couple of sawmills. I am concerned about the emissions that are emitted from their production facilities. I can see the steam and wonder if there is a risk from chemicals that may used or from toxic dust. Are there hazards used at the facilities such as chemicals, and should our community be concerned or aware of the sawmill practices?
Oddly enough, I live in a sawmill town as well and can see the planer mill from my front porch. While I cannot claim to have in-depth knowledge of the specific chemicals and emissions controls for sawmills, I do know that these facilities are regulated by the US EPA and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) provides data on facilities' toxic emissions. As our dry kiln expert who has studied lumber drying emissions stated, dry kilns are responsible for the majority of the emissions from sawmills and it is not reported on the TRI because the kiln emissions are not toxic enough.
The dust that would be produced would be primarily sawdust without added chemicals and from being in these facilities I know that, to the extent possible, sawdust is trapped, accumulated, and sold for products like particleboard.
Like most sawmills, they do treat the final product with a chemical to prevent mold growth. However, that is done after all the sawing, trimming and planing/surfacing is done to the wood. Therefore, no dust should be generated from the treated material.