One step in the complete floor-finishing process - specifically, sanding - has always created an enormous amount of airborne wood dust. Wood dust generated by floor sanding is a known toxin and carcinogen. While the level of toxicity varies considerably according to the species of the wood, it is still highly recommended that every precautionary measure be taken - especially for the hardwood flooring professional who faces frequent or long-term exposure.
The list in the chart accompanying this article indicates wood species whose dust has been identified as toxic. The second column lists a code for the type of resulting reaction (I for "irritant," S for "sensitizer," C for "cancer causing," P for "hyper-sensitivity pneumonia," and DT for "direct toxin"). The third column shows lists the potency level.