Wood dust and nasal cancer risk. A review of the evidence from North America

J Occup Environ Med. 1997 Feb;39(2):148-56. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199702000-00012.


In this article, biomedical literature assessing risks of nasal cancer and nonmalignant nasal pathology among woodworkers in North America is reviewed in detail and contrasted with experience from Europe and elsewhere. Exceptionally high rates of nasal adenocarcinoma have occurred among European hardwood furniture workers, but the epidemiologic evidence documents a disparity in findings between North America and Europe. Cohort studies of American wood-dust-exposed groups do not reveal excesses of nasal cancer, and wood-dust associations from US and Canadian case-control studies of nasal cancer tend not to be strong and differ across studies. Quantitative wood-dust exposure data are generally unavailable, but general dose information in European studies suggests that the excess risk of nasal cancer is associated with high levels of exposure. There is also an inconsistent association between wood-dust exposure per se and mucostasis or nasal histologic changes, and the mucostasis/metaplasia/dysplasia route to nasal cancer is still an unverified hypothesis. Considering the totality of evidence on the risk of cancer in exposed workers, it appears that wood-dust-related nasal adenocarcinoma essentially can be eliminated in Europe and its occurrence prevented in the United States if wood-dust exposures do not exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average 5 mg/m3 standard.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Dust*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Nasal Mucosa / pathology
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Nose Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Nose Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Wood*


  • Dust