Inorganic preservatives in wood dust - Cause of nasal cancer?

IRG/WP 97-50085

A O Rapp, K Brandt, R-D Peek, U Schmitt

Since 1985 dust particles from beech and oak trees have been classified by the Senate Commission of the German Research Council (DFG) as being ,,working materials which are definitely carcinogenic to humans". All other wood dusts, including those from softwoods, are classified as being materials ,,with reasonable suspicion of carcinogenic potential". The carcinogenic principle of action continues to remain unclear despite some partial findings of new studies. The load of wood dust with non-genuine chemicals especially heavy metals is one of a number of possible triggering principles. This study describes wood dust collected in 33 German wood processing companies, with regard to concentration of the dust in the air and load of the dust with chromium, copper and boron. More often than expected the machining of preservative treated wood was found. Besides wood preservatives other sources of contamination of wood dust have been identified. Woodworkers are exposed to higher levels of chromium, copper and boron than average citizen, but are far away from threshold values. The heavy metal exposure levels found seem to be unlikely the sole carcinogenic principle of action.


Keywords: LOAD OF WOOD DUST; CHROMIUM; COPPER; BORON; OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE; MALIGNANT NASAL TUMORS; NASAL CANCER

Conference: 97-05-25/30 Whistler, British Columbia, Canada


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