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01-10-2009 | Respiratory | Article

Wood dust exposure linked to increased asthma risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Wood dust exposure is associated with an increased risk for work-related asthma, but the risk may be modified by ethnicity, results of a meta-analysis suggest.

“Work-related asthma is the most common occupational respiratory disorder in the industrialized countries,” explain Mónica Pérez-Ríos (University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain) and team.

They add that some previous studies have suggested that carpenters and other workers who are exposed to wood dust may be at increased risk for asthma, but others have found no such association.

To investigate further, the researchers searched the Medline database for relevant studies reporting asthma risk associated with wood dust exposure.

In total, 19 studies conducted in six countries between 1991 and 2008 with clear diagnostic criteria for asthma and explicitly described occupational exposure to wood dust were included in the final analysis.

Analysis of the pooled results from these studies revealed that workers who are regularly exposed to wood dust are 1.53 times more likely to develop work-related asthma than unexposed individuals.

When the analysis was restricted to studies of Caucasian populations, the relative risk for asthma associated with wood dust exposure was 1.59, and when it was restricted to Asian populations, the relative risk fell to 1.15.

Pérez-Ríos and team conclude in the journal Allergy: “The relatively large number of studies included, the magnitude of the associations found, the consistency of the results through settings, and the existence of mechanisms that give strong biologic plausibility to the relation provide evidence that occupational exposure to wood dust may increase the risk for asthma.”

They add: “Future research should include careful evaluation of ethnicity and nativity as risk modifiers, and assess duration and intensity of exposure to wood dust.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Mark Cowen

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