Symptoms, pulmonary function, and bronchial hyperreactivity in western red cedar workers compared with those in office workers

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1984 Dec;130(6):1038-41. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1984.130.6.1038.


An epidemiologic health study was carried out on 652 cedar mill workers and a control group of 440 male office workers not exposed to air contaminants. Participants completed a medical-occupational questionnaire with trained interviewers, had allergy skin tests, performed spirometry, and had bronchial reactivity assessed by methacholine inhalation testing. After adjusting for differences in age, race, and smoking, cedar workers were found to have significantly higher prevalences of cough, phlegm, and dyspnea than did office workers. Symptoms of asthma and work-related asthma, but not persistent wheeze or doctor-diagnosed asthma, were reported in a significantly higher proportion of cedar workers than of office workers. Cedar workers also had significantly lower lung function test results than did office workers after controlling for height, age, race, and smoking. Bronchial hyperreactivity, defined by a methacholine PC20 less than 8 mg/ml, was more prevalent among cedar workers than among office workers, with the increase being limited to the nonatopic subgroup of workers. The prevalence of bronchial hyperreactivity increased with duration of employment among cedar workers but not among office workers. We conclude that exposure to western red cedar dust is harmful to the respiratory health of the workers, causing asthma and other respiratory symptoms, bronchial hyperreactivity, and lower levels of lung function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchial Diseases / chemically induced
  • Bronchial Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / chemically induced
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors
  • Trees*


  • Dust