Trends in Wood Dust Inhalation Exposure in the UK, 1985-2005

The recent copy of the Annals of Occupational Hygiene offer a review on 'Trends
in Wood Dust Inhalation Exposure in the UK'.

Wood dust data held in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) National Exposure
DataBase (NEDB) were reviewed to investigate the long-term changes in
inhalation exposure from 1985 to 2005. In addition, follow-up sampling
measurements were obtained from selected companies where exposure measurements
had been collected prior to 1994, thereby providing a follow-up period of at
least 10 years, to determine whether changes in exposure levels had occurred,
with key staff being interviewed to identify factors that might be responsible
for any changes observed.

For the National Exposure DataBase wood dust data, an annual decline of
geometric mean (GM) exposure of 8.1% per year was found based on 1459 exposure
measurements collected between 1985 and 2003. This trend was predominantly
observed in data from inspection visits (measurements collected on a mandatory
basis by a Specialist HSE Inspector) (n = 1009), while data from representative
surveys (measurements collected on a voluntary basis to provide information on
current practices and exposures) remained relatively stable. Ten follow-up
surveys in individual workplaces in 2004-2005 resulted in 70 new measurements
and for each of the companies resurveyed, the GM of the wood dust exposure
decreased between sampling surveys.

The authors conclude: Analysis of the temporal trend in UK wood dust exposure
concentrations revealed declines of 8% per annum. Interviews with key
long-serving employees and management suggest that factors such as
technological changes in production processes, response to new legislation, and
enforcement agency inspections, together with global economic trends, could be
linked to the downward trends observed.

More information - Source: Annals of Occupational Hygiene