[Biological effect of wood dust]

Med Pr. 1993;44(3):277-88.
[Article in Polish]


The biological effect of exposure to wood dust depends on its composition and the content of microorganisms which are an inherent element of the dust. The irritant and allergic effects of wood dust have been recognised for a long time. The allergic effect is caused by the wood dust of subtropical trees, e.g. western red cedar (Thuja plicata), redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), obeche (Triplochiton scleroxylon), cocabolla (Dalbergia retusa) and others. Trees growing in the European climate such as: larch (Larix), walnut (Juglans regia), oak (Quercus), beech (Fagus), pine (Pinus) cause a little less pronounced allergic effect. Occupational exposure to irritative or allergic wood dust may lead to bronchial asthma, rhinitis, alveolitis allergica, DDTS (Organic dust toxic syndrome), bronchitis, allergic dermatitis, conjunctivitis. An increased risk of adenocarcinoma of the sinonasal cavity is an important and serious problem associated with occupational exposure to wood dust. Adenocarcinoma constitutes about half of the total number of cancers induced by wood dust. An increased incidence of the squamous cell cancers can also be observed. The highest risk of cancer applies to workers of the furniture industry, particularly those dealing with machine wood processing, cabinet making and carpentry. The cancer of the upper respiratory tract develops after exposure to many kinds of wood dust. However, the wood dust of oak and beech seems to be most carcinogenic. It is assumed that exposure to wood dust can cause an increased incidence of other cancers, especially lung cancer and Hodgkin's disease. The adverse effects of microorganisms, mainly mould fungi and their metabolic products are manifested by alveolitis allergica and ODTS. These microorganisms can induce aspergillomycosis, bronchial asthma, rhinitis and allergic dermatitis.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*
  • Wood*


  • Dust