Respiratory Health and Indoor Air Quality in Washington's Cannabis Industry

This pilot study will evaluate exposures and respiratory health outcomes in cannabis production workers by identifying the specific hazards associated with respiratory health concerns, and identifying appropriate industrial hygiene solutions to mitigate those hazards.

Recently there has been a dramatic expansion of the cannabis industry in multiple US states. Cannabis-related companies now employ an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 full- and part-time workers. Several prior studies indicate a significant potential for hazardous respiratory exposures in this industry, including mold, organic dust, and toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Our own recent work involving interviews with cannabis workers revealed that respiratory hazards were their major occupational health concern. In collaboration with an industry partner, we will conduct a panel study to evaluate the hypothesis that airborne contaminants associated with cannabis production, are associated with increased airway inflammation, and increased respiratory symptoms in cannabis production workers. Our specific aims are to (i) Measure airborne concentrations of specific contaminants associated with cannabis production in the workplace, (ii) Obtain repeat measures of airway inflammation, respiratory symptoms, and dermal symptoms in a panel of 20 cannabis workers, (iii) Evaluate the association between the exposure measures in aim 1 and the health outcome measures in aim 2, in order to identify specific exposures and work activities associated with adverse health outcomes, and (iv) Recommend industrial hygiene solutions to reduce hazardous exposures and reduce the incidence of respiratory health problems in the cannabis workers.


Principal Investigator: Christopher Simpson, PhD, MSc

Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

University of Washington


PNASH Pilot Program 2017 – Present 


Partners and Advisories

The Cannabis Alliance


Additional Resources

Marijuana Growing - Occupational Health and Safety webpage


Protecting the Pot Workforce, DEOHS Health and Safety Matters blog


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