A respiratory survey of cedar mill workers. I. Prevalence of symptoms and pulmonary function abnormalities

J Occup Med. 1978 May;20(5):323-7.


A respiratory-occupational questionnaire and spirometry were used to compare the prevalence of symptoms and pulmonary function abnormalities in 405 workers exposed to red cedar dust and 252 control workers exposed to other wood dusts. Compared with controls, the cedar workers were found to have a significantly higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms, cough, phlegm, wheeze and breathlessness, as well as more rhinitis and conjunctivitis. While, as expected, there was a clear relationship between respiratory symptoms and cigarette smoking, there was also evidence to suggest a synergistic effect between exposure to cedar dust and smoking. There was no difference in the lung function between cedar workers and controls. Sixty-five workers in the control group previously had worked in red cedar mills; they had a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms than other workers in this group. Red cedar asthma was found in only 1.1% of the cedar workers. This condition usually develops in the early months of exposure, and workers who are affected tend to leave the industry. The probable incidence of red cedar asthma was estimated to be higher, around 4-5%.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Smoking
  • Wood*