Chemical exposures and respiratory cancer among Finnish woodworkers

Br J Ind Med. 1993 Feb;50(2):143-8. doi: 10.1136/oem.50.2.143.


A case-control study of respiratory cancer, nested within a cohort of male woodworkers, was updated in Finland. The update extended the initial follow up of 3805 workers from 19 plants to 7307 workers from 35 plants. Each case of respiratory cancer (n = 136) diagnosed between 1957 and 1982 within the cohort was matched by year of birth with three controls (n = 408) from the cohort. Chemical exposures were assessed for the cases and the controls by a plant and period specific job exposure matrix. An excess of respiratory cancer was associated with phenol. Concomitant exposures to several other agents occurred as well, however, and no exposure-response relation for phenol was seen. An excess risk and an increasing exposure-response relation were found for engine exhaust from petrol and diesel driven factory trucks. The excess risk associated with pesticides was lower than in our previous study, an indication of qualitative and quantitative differences in exposure between the initial and augmented cohorts. Slightly increased risks were found for terpenes and mould spores, which may be due to chance although the contribution of occupational exposure cannot be ruled out. Exposure to wood dust, mainly from pine, spruce and birch, at a level of about 1 mg/m3, was not associated with lung cancer, upper respiratory cancer, or adenocarcinoma of the lung.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Wood*


  • Dust