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Chalk a respiratory irritant?
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sheldon_purkiss


Jan 14, 2006, 5:54 AM
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Chalk a respiratory irritant?
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Hi there,

Does anyone else find that after a night of climbing (indoor), the next day their throat is really dry from chalk? Or that their asthma is aggrivated from breathing in chalk?


chossmonkey


Jan 14, 2006, 7:01 AM
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I've never had a problem with chalk. Really dusty conditions otherwise do bother me sometimes.

Does anyone else who climbs there ever have a problem? They might need to ventilate better.

Anything you breathe can be an irritant if you inhale too much of it.


baigot


Jan 14, 2006, 8:49 AM
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I suffer light asthma caused by alergic reactions. Now iīm in a treatment to alergy and i donīt suffer ashtma anymore (tanx god).

But to your question, YES, itīs irritant to the lungs and cause some asthma attacks. So becarefull with chalk...

But...the irritation in the respiratory system is for everybody, not for asthmatics only.

Cheers.

Vicente


sheldon_purkiss


Jan 14, 2006, 8:56 AM
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I think it's bad lately because I was climbing around some really new climbers, and they would take the chalk ball out of the bag, and smak it against their hands in clean air, instead of keeping their chalk ball in the back and squeezing it...


splattum


Jan 14, 2006, 9:42 AM
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Does anyone have real info on this? To my knowledge the worst things for the lungs are very fine particulates. Chalk is calcium carbonate which is soluble in water. I would think that while it may be a mild short term irritant, it would not last long or have serious long-term effects. This is just an idea, I do not have facts, anyone?


thetroutscout


Jan 15, 2006, 7:43 PM
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Yeah, it gets to my lungs sometimes but usually get to my contacts first.

^^ike


salamanizer


Jan 15, 2006, 9:26 PM
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Try climbing Outdoors


sheldon_purkiss


Jan 16, 2006, 4:52 AM
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oh, come the spring, i totally plan to. :) In the meantime, indoors it is!


healyje


Jan 16, 2006, 5:18 AM
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Good thing OSHA hasn't picked up on the indoor air quality issue for gym employees yet...


tommez


Jan 16, 2006, 6:03 AM
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Another thing is that bacteria and viruses travel easier in a room full of chalk.


coolklimber


Jan 16, 2006, 8:18 AM
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I have mild asthma and I have had no problems.....


skinner


Jan 16, 2006, 8:38 AM
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I don't use chalk so I am certainly the furthest thing from an authority on the subject.

I was talking to the owner of Flashed climbing one day and he attempted to school me on the subject of chalk. The part I do remember is that many brands of chalk contain additive such as additional drying agents which are not only an irritant , but long term exposure could be harmful. He went on to explain that Flashed had removed all of these from their chalk.
I have asthma as well and am affected by chalk dust to some degree but would suggest that it could possibly be these additives which are affecting you more so then the actual chalk itself.

Just a thought.


natwood2000


Jan 17, 2006, 9:34 AM
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I tried climbing for the first time last week and I had problems breathing. At first I believed it was the rigorous physical activity, but as I was going next to some one using chalk it worsened. I found taking one of my inhalers did the trick. If you have an inhaler try that.


wonderwoman


Jan 17, 2006, 9:48 AM
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Here is a material safety data sheet for chalk:

http://www.sciencestuff.com/msds/C1423.html

Conclusion: Eating chalk is bad!

Generally not hazardous in normal handling, however good laboratory practices should always be used. Avoid long term exposure to skin or by inhalation.
Section 4 First Aid Measures
Generally not hazardous in normal handling, however good laboratory practices should always be used. Avoid long term exposure to skin or by inhalation.

FIRST AID: SKIN: Wash exposed area with soap and water. If irritation persists, seek medical attention.

EYES: Wash eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes, lifting lids occasionally. Seek Medical Aid. INHALATION: Remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breathing is difficult, give oxygen

INGESTION: Give several glasses of milk or water. Vomiting may occur spontaneously, but it is not necessary to induce. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person.


mtn_eagle


Jan 17, 2006, 10:07 AM
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I'm a pulmonologist (lung doctor) and I have looked into this subject in the past. I have never found any real information on magnesium carbonate (most gym chalk) but there is a decent amount of literature concerning particulate matter. Although there is a lot of nasty stuff in smog, the measurement of particulate matter has one of the strongest correlations with exacerbations of asthma and COPD (emphysema/chronic bronchitis). Although the term "particulate matter" encompasses some bioactive substances, experiments with relatively innert substances such as calcium carbonate have also shown a respiratory effect. The science behind the actual mechanism is not completely worked out but inhaling particulate matter such as chalk dust could be expected to result in similar reactions especially in asthmatics. These would include nasal obstruction, increased mucous production and bronchoconstriction. Even non-asthmatics may have some symptoms, although I would expect them to be much less severe. Avoidance would be best but for gym climbers various inhalers may be beneficial. I'd recommend seeing your doctor before just trying other people's inhalers, however. (Alas, there is no escape from disclaimers.)


mtn_eagle


Jan 17, 2006, 10:09 AM
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I'm a pulmonologist (lung doctor) and I have looked into this subject in the past. I have never found any real information on magnesium carbonate (most gym chalk) but there is a decent amount of literature concerning particulate matter. Although there is a lot of nasty stuff in smog, the measurement of particulate matter has one of the strongest correlations with exacerbations of asthma and COPD (emphysema/chronic bronchitis). Although the term "particulate matter" encompasses some bioactive substances, experiments with relatively innert substances such as calcium carbonate have also shown a respiratory effect. The science behind the actual mechanism is not completely worked out but inhaling particulate matter such as chalk dust could be expected to result in similar reactions especially in asthmatics. These would include nasal obstruction, increased mucous production and bronchoconstriction. Even non-asthmatics may have some symptoms, although I would expect them to be much less severe. Avoidance would be best but for gym climbers various inhalers may be beneficial. I'd recommend seeing your doctor before just trying other people's inhalers, however. (Alas, there is no escape from disclaimers.)


mtn_eagle


Jan 17, 2006, 10:12 AM
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I'm a pulmonologist (lung doctor) and I have looked into this subject in the past. I have never found any real information on magnesium carbonate (most gym chalk) but there is a decent amount of literature concerning particulate matter. Although there is a lot of nasty stuff in smog, the measurement of particulate matter has one of the strongest correlations with exacerbations of asthma and COPD (emphysema/chronic bronchitis). Although the term "particulate matter" encompasses some bioactive substances, experiments with relatively innert substances such as calcium carbonate have also shown a respiratory effect. The science behind the actual mechanism is not completely worked out but inhaling particulate matter such as chalk dust could be expected to result in similar reactions especially in asthmatics. These would include nasal obstruction, increased mucous production and bronchoconstriction. Even non-asthmatics may have some symptoms, although I would expect them to be much less severe. Avoidance would be best but for gym climbers various inhalers may be beneficial. I'd recommend seeing your doctor before just trying other people's inhalers, however. (Alas, there is no escape from disclaimers.)


laurajpetersen


Jan 17, 2006, 10:15 AM
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Chalk isn't so bad, but if you've ever had an Eco ball explode or if you've even ever inhaled the stuff, you'd be wishing you had breathed in chalk instead.


kovacs69


Jan 17, 2006, 10:39 AM
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I have had a great deal of experience with chalk. Being a gymnast and now a coach I have used or been around chalk for over 30 years now and have never had or seen anyone have a reaction to chalk. As a coach I have seen kids play in it, eat it, shove someone else's head in it and basically inhale it with no adverse effect. I have know many coaches that have lived into their 80's and even 90's without any problems that could be associated with chalk. I have never seen any evidence that chalk is or has ever been associated with any reaction.

Enter Short Story Here!

About 15 years ago I had a family come to my gym.
The parents came in and explained that their son and daughter had Cystic Fibrosis. For those of you that don't know Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder where a build-up of thick mucus makes it difficult to clear bacteria and leads to cycles of infection and inflammation, which damage the delicate lung tissues. They informed me that the condition was fatal and that they were told that their son and daughter would not live to be old enough to drive a car. My first response was "Why bring them into a chalky gym then?" They referred to the doctor that said the chalk would be absorbed into the body and was not harmful to their health. I was skeptical but said ok. Their son, now 27 years old, never had any problems related to the chalk and is now married and starting a family of his own. The daughter, now 25 years old, is a teacher and living a healthy life. Sure they both have their own breathing difficulties but never had it been associated with the inhalation of chalk dust.

Just had to add the story.

Hope you enjoy.
JB


krusher4


Jan 17, 2006, 12:03 PM
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Allergic to chalk? Bouldering with a helmet? WTF What ever happened to climbers being hard-men? All you newbies stop being such pussies...and yes I have nothing better to do at work.


lilbeach


Nov 18, 2012, 6:09 PM
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I put a post here about trying to use a respirator in the gym...

http://www.rockclimbing.com/...rum.cgi?post=2606133


mtn_eagle


Nov 18, 2012, 7:03 PM
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lilbeach wrote:
I put a post here about trying to use a respirator in the gym...

http://www.rockclimbing.com/...rum.cgi?post=2606133

You don't actually need an N95 mask to filter out chalk particles. The N95 is used to prevent infections from viruses. Finding a more permeable mask would likely allow you to breath easier and give adequate protection.


lilbeach


Nov 19, 2012, 11:11 PM
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Thanks for your post mtn_eagle!

I will try a lighter dust mask... full reply here: http://www.rockclimbing.com/...ost=2606247;#2606247


gunkiemike


Nov 20, 2012, 2:26 PM
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[quote "splattum"]Does anyone have real info on this? To my knowledge the worst things for the lungs are very fine particulates. Chalk is calcium carbonate which is soluble in water. I would think that while it may be a mild short term irritant, it would not last long or have serious long-term effects. This is just an idea, I do not have facts, anyone?[/quote]



Climbers chalk is MAGNESIUM carbonate, but that doesn't change the story i.e. that it can be mildly irritating if inhaled. But no surprise there - suppliers tend to be overly conservative (cautious) when writing Safety Data Sheets. Hell, even sugar is listed as an inhalation irritant. (I'm not trivializing this - the respiratory hazards associated with dust exposure can be very relevant to workers loading the stuff into rail cars 8 hr/day)


unsunken


Nov 20, 2012, 2:33 PM
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Chalk is the main reason I now try to toprope or lead in the gym instead of boulder. I wish people were more cognizant of their chalk bags and weren't spilling it everywhere.
I have asthma and it triggers a reaction for me. I even once had someone come up to me and tell me that I needed to get checked out for TB. Turns out it's just the chalk.


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