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Ann Occup Hyg. 2000 Jun;44(4):281-9.

Effects of personal exposures on pulmonary function and work-related symptoms among sawmill workers.

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Epidemiology Unit, National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, GPO Box 58, 2001, Sydney, Australia.


Three green mills and two dry mills were studied for personal exposure to wood dust and biohazards associated with wood dust and their correlation to lung function and work-related symptoms among sawmill workers. The levels of exposure to endotoxin, (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan, bacteria and fungi were high in green mills compared with dry mills. Compared with dry mill workers, green mill workers had significantly high prevalence of regular cough, chronic bronchitis, regular blocked nose, regular sneezing, sinus problems, flu-like symptoms, and eye and throat irritation. Significant positive correlations were found among endotoxin and Gram (-)ve bacteria, (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan and fungi, and endotoxin and (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan exposure levels. Significant dose-response relationships were found for personal exposures and lung function, and lung function and work-related respiratory symptoms. The significant correlations found for respirable fractions show that not only inhalable but also respirable fractions are important in determining potential health effects of exposure to wood dust. The management and employees of the sawmilling industry should be educated on the potential health effects of wood dust. Wood dust should be controlled at the source.

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