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Ann Occup Hyg. 2008 Jun;52(4):227-38. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/men012. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Determinants of wood dust exposure in the Danish furniture industry--results from two cross-sectional studies 6 years apart.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Institute of Public Health, Aarhus University, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark.



This paper investigates determinants of wood dust exposure and trends in dust level in the furniture industry of Viborg County, Denmark, using data from two cross-sectional studies 6 years apart.


During the winter 1997/1998, 54 factories were visited (hereafter study 1). In the winter 2003/2004, 27 factories were revisited, and personal dust measurements were repeated. In addition, 14 new factories were included (hereafter study 2). A total of 2303 woodworkers participated in study 1, and 2358 measurements from 1702 workers were available. From study 2, 1581 woodworkers participated and 1355 measurements from 1044 workers were available. Information on occupational variables describing potential determinants of exposures like work task, exhaust ventilation, enclosure and cleaning procedures were collected. A total of 2627 measurements and 1907 persons were included in the final mixed model in order to explore determinants of exposure and trends in dust level.


The overall inhalable wood dust concentration (geometric means (geometric standard deviation)) has decreased from 0.95 mg/m(3) (2.05) in study 1 to 0.60 mg/m(3) (1.63) in study 2, representing a 7% annual decrease in dust concentration, which was confirmed in the mixed model. From study 1 to study 2 there has been a change towards less manual work and more efficient cleaning methods, but on the contrary also more inadequate exhaust ventilation systems. The following determinants were found to 'increase' dust concentration: sanding; use of compressed air; use of full-automatic machines; manual work; cleaning of work pieces with compressed air; kitchen producing factories and small factories (<20 employees). The following determinants of exposure were found to 'decrease' dust concentration: manual assembling/packing; sanding with adequate exhaust ventilation; adequate exhaust ventilation; vacuum cleaning of machines and special cleaning staff.


Despite a substantial drop in the dust concentration during the last 6 years in the furniture industry in Viborg County, further improvements are possible. There should be more focus on improved exhaust ventilation, professional cleaning methods and avoiding use of compressed air.

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