Chapter 34WOOD DUST

Harold R. Imbus and Gregg M. Stave


Exposure to wood dust occurs in many industries, including logging and sawmill operations, furniture manufacturing, paper manufacturing, construction of residential and commercial buildings, and especially carpentry and cabinet making. Workers are exposed when wood is sawed, chipped, routed, or sanded.

Wood may also contain biological or chemical contaminants. Biological contaminants include molds and fungi, which often grow on the bark of wood. Exogenous chemicals include those used in treating the wood. Common wood preservatives are arsenic, chromium, copper, creosote, and pentachlorophenol. Wood also contains many endogenous chemicals that are responsible for its biological actions.


Wood dust exposure occurs through inhalation. In general, the finer particles of wood dust are more biologically active due to their greater surface area and their ability to penetrate and adhere to the respiratory mucosa. Furniture manufacturing and cabinet making are operations that produce the finer particles. Contact with skin or mucous membranes may also have health consequences.


Wood dust is composed of wood particles generated by the processing or handling of wood. Hardwoods, such as maple, oak, and cherry, come from deciduous trees with broad leaves. Softwoods come from evergreen trees such as pine, spruce, and fir. The terms are somewhat misleading in that some of the hardwoods ...

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