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Eur Respir J. 2008 Feb;31(2):334-42. Epub 2007 Nov 7.

Longitudinal lung function decline and wood dust exposure in the furniture industry.

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Dept of Occupational Medicine, Region Hospital Skive, Denmark.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between change in lung function and cumulative exposure to wood dust. In total, 1,112 woodworkers (927 males, 185 females) and 235 reference workers (104 males, 185 females) participated in a 6-yr longitudinal study. Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV(1)), forced vital capacity (FVC), height and weight were measured, and questionnaire data on respiratory symptoms, wood dust exposure and smoking habits were collected. Cumulative inhalable wood dust exposure was assessed using a study-specific job exposure matrix and exposure time. The median (range) for cumulative wood dust exposure was 3.75 (0-7.55) mg x year x m(-3). A dose-response relationship between cumulative wood dust exposure and percent annual decrease in FEV(1) was suggested for female workers. This was confirmed in a linear regression model adjusted for confounders, including smoking, height and age. An additional difference of -14.50 mL x yr(-1) and -27.97 mL x yr(-1) was revealed for females exposed to 3.75-4.71 mg x yr x m(-3) or to >4.71 mg x yr x m(-3), respectively, compared with non-/low-exposed females. For females, a positive trend between wood dust exposure and the cumulative incidence proportion of FEV(1)/FVC <70% was suggested. In conclusion, in the present low-exposed cohort, female woodworkers had an accelerated decline in lung function, which may be clinically relevant.

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