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
- 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
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