Respiratory cancers and chemical exposures in the wood industry: a nested case-control study

Br J Ind Med. 1986 Feb;43(2):84-90. doi: 10.1136/oem.43.2.84.


A cohort of 3805 men who had worked for at least one year in the particleboard, plywood, sawmill, or formaldehyde glue industries between 1944 and 1965 was followed up until 1981. From within the cohort the 57 patients with verified "respiratory" cancer (ICD 7 codes: 160-162.1, 141, 143-8) were defined as "cases," and 171 men without respiratory cancer from within the cohort were matched on birth year and used as controls. The comparison of exposures was carried out according to work histories and job exposure matrices for each plant. The odds ratio for exposure to wood dust was 1.03 (32 exposed cases) without provision for any latent period, and 0.97 (27 exposed cases) when provision for a minimum latent period of ten years was applied. The odds ratios were 1.60 and 1.68, respectively, when smoking was controlled by stratification. These results did not differ significantly from unity. The estimated average level of exposure to wood dust among the exposed was 1-2 mg/m3 and the mean duration of exposure about ten years. Significantly (one sided test, 5% level) raised odds ratios were observed for exposure to pesticides and phenol. No single pesticide could be identified as "causative" because of frequent multiple exposures. The raised odds ratios for phenol were partly explained by smoking and exposure to pesticides which confounded the observed associations for phenol exposure. Exposure to terpenes and other heating products of coniferous woods was significantly associated with a risk of respiratory cancer when the duration of exposure exceeded five years.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Pesticides / adverse effects
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Wood*


  • Pesticides