Wood dust, all soft and hard woods

Agent Name
Wood dust, all soft and hard woods
Major Category
Biological Agents
Wood dusts; [IARC] Softwoods (temperate gymnosperms or conifers); Hardwoods (temperate angiosperms); Tropical woods (primarily angiosperms); [ACGIH]
Wood Dusts & Extracts
"The highest exposures have generally been reported in wood furniture and cabinet manufacture, especially during machine sanding and similar operations (with wood dust levels frequently above 5 mg/m3). Exposure levels above 1 mg/m3 have also been measured in the finishing departments of plywood and particle-board mills, where wood is sawn and sanded, and in the workroom air of sawmills and planer mills near chippers, saws and planers. Exposure to wood dust also occurs among workers in joinery shops, window and door manufacture, wooden boat manufacture, installation and refinishing of wood floors, pattern and model making, pulp and paper manufacture, construction carpentry and logging." {Reference #1] "Although the highest risks [for sino-nasal cancer] have been observed among workers in the wood furniture industry, excesses have also been observed in other wood-related industries, such as sawmills, cabinetmaking, and carpentry." [ACGIH]
"Adenocarcinoma of the nasal cavities and paranasal sinuses is clearly associated with exposure to hardwood dust;" [Reference #1] "There is sufficient evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of wood dust. Wood dust causes cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses and of the nasopharynx." [IARC 2012] Demers et al. pooled studies of wood dust and sino-nasal cancer from seven countries. Odds ratios were 13.5 for wood-related occupations. There was no excess risk among the men in the lowest exposure category. "Because of the long latency of sino-nasal cancer, it is largely assumed that the effective period of exposure for most studies was 20 to 30 years prior to diagnosis, which is equivalent to the 1950s and 1960s for most studies." [ACGIH] The nontropical woods such as white pine rarely cause allergic contact dermatitis in carpenters. [Marks, p.314] Western red cedar is a common cause of occupational asthma in the U.S. Pacific Northwest where it affects sawmill workers, shingle makers, carpenters, construction workers, and cabinet makers. [Asthma in the Workplace, p. 276] See "Oak," "American mahogany," "African maple," "Central American walnut," "Ash," "Ebony," "Cinnamon," and other causes of occupational asthma.
Biomedical References

Exposure Assessment

Skin Designation (ACGIH)
1 mg/m3, inhalable partculate matter (all wood dusts except Western red cedar)
Explanatory Notes
ACGIH designates oak and beech as A1 (confirmed human carcinogens); birch, mahogany (African), teak, and walnut as A2 (suspected human carcinogens); and Western red cedar and all other wood dusts as A4 (not classifiable).

Adverse Effects

Chronic Bronchitis
Skin Sensitizer
IARC Carcinogen
NTP Carcinogen
Human carcinogen

Diseases, Processes, and Activities Linked to This Agent


Industrial Processes with risk of exposure:


Activities with risk of exposure: