Gourd Art Enthusiasts

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I am a newby on this site and am interested in getting your feedback about working with gourds and the health risks.

 I just read a disclaimer on a website back east about working with gourds and all the health issues that could come up. Does anyone have some input as far as their actual experience working with gourds. I have several that I have grown and want to start using them for decorative birdhouses to sell, but was a bit concerned when Iread the information.

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Hi Robin,

Don't be afraid, just take a few common sense precautions. Also, read the postings re masks and vents. You want to avoid breathing the mold and gourd dust and always wear a mask when cutting, cleaning or sanding. I have mild asthma but have not had any health issues. I use either a soft N-95 mask or a half face safety mask with the replaceable filters, depending on what I'm doing. Also, no open beverages when you're doing these things. I'm not good about wearing an apron to keep the dust off my clothes, but I limit my time in the house when I've been doing the dirty work in the garage or outside. As soon as I'm done for the day, I change and wash my clothes and take a shower. If I do go get something to eat or whatever in the house, I ALWAYS dust myself off as much as possible and wash my hands and arms thoroughly before touching anything. I'm really not that much of a germ nut, but I've heard too many people say they got bad respiratory infections from not wearing a mask or otherwise breathing a lot of gourd dust/mold. Better safe than sorry. Some people also wear a mask when burning. I don't unless it's at a very high heat for some reason.

Also use any sprays, etc. outside whenever possible. I usually work in my garage and there have been times I've sprayed in there due to wind, etc., but then I leave until the fumes are gone. I try to remember one thing - if I can smell an odor, then I either need to leave the area or get a new mask/filter.

I can't think of anything else right now. Hope this helps.
HI Marty,
THank you so much for the reply, I will do as you suggest and start my gourds, I am not usually worried about this kind of thing.

When washing the gourds I put 1/8 cup of bleach in five gallons of water when scrubbing them. The bleach will kill any mold spores on the outside of the gourd, rinse thoroughly and let dry.

If your sanding on them wear at least a N95 rated dust mask (filters fine particles) as gourd dust is very fine. Same with any cutting or drilling. If you have an air compressor blow the dust off yourself before going back inside your house.

I don’t usually wear a mask when burning because I have good air flow in my work area.

Just be sensible about what your doing.

And, yes I know three woman that have come down with the gourd pneumonia from breathing the mold spores and dust from gourds, so it does happen. It took them many weeks to get over it.

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I have a mak with changeable cartridges and wear eye protection...I started out using nothing....but I would notice a really funky taste in my mouth, and my eyes felt like I had sand in them.....then I did some research....you should really protect yourself...I bought my mask and eye wear at Lowe's for about $30 (small investment for my lungs)
I also wear an apron, and shop shoes( leave them in the garage) also I keep my gourding clothes, next to the garage door, and change when I go in...and change when I come out....I don't walk around in my dusty clothes
Thanks ,
I have yet to start as really busy with our coffee business but have a neighbor that does gourds so am hoping on getting over there and doing some as I have no place out of the weather I can do it. We have a really nice garage area, but it is permitted for the coffee business and it sounds like I do not want any dust in there.
I say just use common sense Robin. Unless you have many allergies you probably won't have any problems with gourds. The biggest and most common reactions comes from the dust when sanding, grinding,and cutting the gourd and inhaling the dust. I do all my work in my basement and work if front of a dust box that sucks all the dust inside of it and I have no problem. Some people do all that kind of work outside on a windy day which works too. At least wear a mask if nothing else.


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