Field Group - Wood Dust

Respiratory Health Effects of Exposure to Wood Dust

This study was designed to determine whether subjects with no previous occupational exposure to wood dust would experience acute respiratory irritation, as demonstrated by decreased pulmonary function and reported respiratory symptoms. In order to associate hourly peak flow measures and symptom reports with short-term exposures, real-time monitoring of dust (assumed to be mostly wood dust) was conducted for each subject in addition to full-shift sampling. An evaluation of real-time data graphs showed great variability, with some individuals receiving much of their daily exposures during a very short period, while others had their exposures more evenly distributed over time. A decrease in pulmonary function was seen for the exposed individuals, but the changes were relatively small. Wide variability in aerosol monitor exposures indicated a need to carefully evaluate which variables best predict the aerosol monitor response for a given dust concentration. This will allow appropriate correction factors to be calculated so that aerosol monitor response can be extrapolated back to dust concentration with some certainty.