I have noticed that in days of intense indoor chocolate making work I end up with some discomfort. Commonly a stuffed or a runny nose, similar to having a cold.
My first guess is the smaller particles that are liberated when grinding the beans and winnowing may get into one's respiratory system and produce this symptoms. I tried wearing a mask while grinding and winnowing (both indoors) and it seems to help, but not completely.
How about vapors while roasting? Is the acid from the strong whiffing to tell if beans are done doing something nasty to my nostrils?
Does anyone care to share what kind of measures are being used by them or their teams?
Hi Felipe, without knowing what kind of beans or equipment you are using, I would say that you are guessing correctly. Cacao dust is a big problem for us when we are bagging for export for example, its a strong eye/respiratory irritant. that same dust is present in roasting and winnowing. in chocolate processing you also have acetic acid laden vapor, ash particles, and your respiratory tissues are dried out from the heat potentially, which makes all problems worse. Grinding and conching liberates a lot of vinegar (acetic) acid which is very hard on the respiratory system.
If the mask helps then I would say you need a better mask or a filtered breathing system. try an N95 rated medical mask for example which should mold around the nose, seals off better than a simple exam mask, and protects against finer particles. or go to a 1 or 2 cartridge respirator, using cartridges rated for fine particulate and/or acid vapors. they're not fun to wear but they do protect you.
hope this helps
Thank you so much for your kind and informative reply. It seems the best job in the world does have its hazards. The mask types are a great reference!
On second thought, I might as well look for a Darth Vader mask and outfit.