Exposure to biohazards in wood dust: bacteria, fungi, endotoxins, and (1-->3)-beta-D-glucans

Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 1999 Sep;14(9):598-608. doi: 10.1080/104732299302404.


Personal exposure to fungi, bacteria, endotoxin, and (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan was determined at different woodworking sites--logging sites, sawmills, woodchipping sites, and joineries. Exposure levels to fungi at logging sites and sawmills were in the range of 10(3)-10(4) cfu/m3, at the woodchipping mill, 10(3)-10(5) cfu/m3, and at joineries, 10(2)-10(4) cfu/m3. Although mean endotoxin levels were lower than the suggested threshold value of 20 ng/m3, some personal exposures at sawmills and a joinery exceeded the standard. The geometric mean personal (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan exposure level at the woodchipping mill was 2.32 ng/m3, at sawmills, 1.37 ng/m3, at logging sites, 2.02 ng/m3, and at joineries, 0.43 ng/m3. Highly significant associations were found between mean personal inhalable endotoxin exposures and Gram-negative bacteria levels (p < 0.0001), and mean personal inhalable (1-->3)-beta-D-glucan exposures and fungi levels (p = 0.0003). The prevalence of cough, phlegm, chronic bronchitis, nasal symptoms, frequent headaches, and eye and throat irritations was significantly higher among woodworkers than controls. Dose-response relationships were found between personal exposures and work-related symptoms among joinery workers and sawmill and chip mill workers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Endotoxins / adverse effects
  • Endotoxins / analysis*
  • Glucans / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / microbiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / microbiology*
  • Wood*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust
  • Endotoxins
  • Glucans