Limit value for wood dust (II): exposure, epidemiology, and definition of the limit value

Project No. BGIA 1094


completed 12/2007


Exposure to wood dust is common in the wood industry. However, other chemical substances, such as solvents and paints, are also widely encountered at workplaces of timber processing and wood working. Occupational diseases in the wood industry may therefore have multiple causes, and need not necessarily be attributable to exposure to wood dust. The objective was to determine current levels of exposure to wood dust and to evaluate them in consideration of health protection and the technical scope for reducing exposure from a European perspective.


Based upon an analysis of the epidemiological literature, an up-to-date overview was produced of dose-effect relationships and issues of limit values. In addition, a number of series of measurements were conducted at workplaces involving wood in order to determine the current exposure. These measurements were performed with the co-operation of the BG responsible for the woodworking industry. The results were presented at the "International Congress Wood Dust", held in Strasbourg in October 2006 by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and the Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité (INRS).


The discussion of the results presented at the International Congress Wood Dust showed that exposures in the order of 2 mg/m³ for the inhalable fraction of wood dust were accepted by delegates from the scientific community (health protection) and company practice (realistic prospect of implementation). A considerable drop in the exposure over recent decades is already evident, and is attributable to preventive measures. Effective approaches for further reductions in exposure are improvements to ventilation; dust exhaust; modifications to machines for reduction of wood dust emissions; and thorough cleaning and maintenance of workplaces and machinery.

Last Update:

15 Apr 2008


Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der Gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BGIA

wood working industry

Type of hazard:

Gefahrstoffe, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren, -Verschiedenes-


Exposition, Grenzwert, Prävention

Description, key words:

epidemiology, wood dust, limit value


Further information