Q: What are the safety issues to consider when working with MDF? A: MDF is typically made with urea-formaldehyde resin totalling 9% by weight. While most people will not be affected by this, people sensitive to formaldehyde emissions should consider low formaldehyde or formaldehyde-free MDF, or consider methods of controlling these emisions through proper finishing. Finishes that work best at controlling formaldehyde emissions are solid add-on surfaces such as high pressure laminates, vinyl covering, and finished wood veneers. Less effective at controlling emissions are simple seal coats, oil and latext paints, danish oil, and wax. Plum Creek makes low-formaldehyde MDF, while Medite II and Medex from Medite Corp. are formaldehyde-free MDF.
Dust is another MDF hazard. The large amount of dust released when working MDF makes proper respiratory and eye protection mandatory. At a minimum use a dust mask. A respirator is preferable. Shop dust collection (or even a ShopVac) would greatly help the removal of dust from not only the air but also the working surfaces, making them easier to see. Goggles should always be worn while using tools.