Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Respiratory symptoms, lung function, and nasal cellularity in Indonesian wood workers: a dose-response analysis
  1. P J A Borm1,
  2. M Jetten2,
  3. S Hidayat4,
  4. N van de Burgh2,
  5. P Leunissen4,
  6. I Kant3,
  7. R Houba5,
  8. H Soeprapto4
  1. 1Department of Fibre and Particle Toxicology, Institut für Umweltmedizinische Forschung (IUF) at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany
  2. 2Department of Health Risk Analysis and Toxicology, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology
  4. 4Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Airllanga, Surabaya, Indonesia
  5. 5Arbo-unie Occupational Health Service, Roermond, the Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr P J A Borm, Department of Particle Toxicology, Institut für Umweltmedizinische Forschung (IUF), Auf `m Hennekamp 50 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany;


Objectives: It was hypothesised that inflammation plays a dominant part in the respiratory effects of exposure to wood dust. The purpose of this study was to relate the nasal inflammatory responses of workers exposed to meranti wood dust to (a) levels of exposure, (b) respiratory symptoms and (c) respiratory function.

Methods: A cross sectional study was carried out in 1997 in a woodworking plant that used mainly meranti, among 982 workers exposed to different concentrations of wood dust. Personal sampling (n=243) of inhalable dust measurements indicated mean exposure in specific jobs, and enabled classification of 930 workers in three exposure classes (<2, 2–5, and >5 mg/m3) based on job title. Questionnaires were used to screen respiratory symptoms in the entire population. Lung function was measured with two different techniques, conventional flow-volume curves and the forced oscillation technique. Nasal lavage was done to assess inflammation in the upper respiratory tract.

Results: A negative trend between years of employment and most flow-volume variables was found in men, but not in women workers. Current exposure, however, was not related to spirometric outcomes, respiratory symptoms, or nasal cellularity. Some impedance variables were related to current exposure but also with better function at higher exposure.

Conclusions: Exposure to meranti wood dust did not cause an inflammation in the upper respiratory tract nor an increase of respiratory symptoms or decrease of lung function. These data do not corroborate the hypothesis that inflammation plays a part in airway obstruction induced by wood dust.

  • wood dust
  • airway disease
  • nasal inflammation
  • dose-response
  • impedance
  • COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • FVC, forced vital capacity
  • FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 second
  • PEF, peak expiratory flow volume
  • MMEF, maximal mid-expiratory flow
  • FD, frequency dependence
  • f0, the frequency at which X equals zero
  • NAL, nasal lavage
  • FOT, forced oscillation technique

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.