Developing a General Population Job-Exposure Matrix in the Absence of Sufficient Exposure Monitoring Data

Ann Occup Hyg. 2011 Oct;55(8):879-85. doi: 10.1093/annhyg/mer045. Epub 2011 Jul 11.


In New Zealand, there is a need for a comprehensive and accessible database with national occupational exposure information, such as a general population job-exposure matrix (GPJEM). However, few New Zealand-specific exposure data exist that could be used to construct such a GPJEM. Here, we present the methods used to develop a GPJEM for New Zealand (NZJEM), by combining GPJEMs from other countries with New Zealand-specific exposure information, using wood dust as an example to illustrate this process. The assessments of GPJEMs from other countries were made available to a New Zealand expert in occupational wood dust exposure, who then provided a preliminary NZJEM assessment (including the percentage exposed and the level of exposure for each occupation). Where possible, this assessment was based on New Zealand exposure measurements. In the next step, information from a nationwide workplace exposure survey of 3000 members of the New Zealand workforce was used to finalize the NZJEM assessments. The final NZJEM listed 104 of the 956 New Zealand occupational codes as exposed to wood dust. The percentage of workers exposed within an occupation ranged from 5% (e.g. boiler attendants) to 100% (e.g. cabinet makers). The level of exposure ranged from 0.05 mg m(-3) (e.g. electricians) to 3 mg m(-3) (e.g. carpenters). Of these assessments, 23% were mainly based on New Zealand exposure data, 37% on overseas GPJEMs and exposure data, and for 40% the national survey data served as the main source of information for the expert assessment. Combining the NZJEM assessments with national employment statistics indicated that 5.6% of the New Zealand workforce is occupationally exposed to wood dust, corresponding to a total of 97 000 workers (86% male and 14% female). Construction-related occupations included the largest number of exposed workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Dust / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupations / classification
  • Prevalence
  • Wood*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust