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Variability and determinants of wood dust and resin acid exposure during wood pellet production: measurement strategies and bias in assessing exposure-response relationships

Variability and determinants of wood dust and resin acid exposure during wood pellet production: measurement strategies and bias in assessing exposure-response relationships

Annals of Occupational Hygiene 52(8): 685-694

Production of wood pellets is a relatively new and expanding industry in which the exposure profiles differ from those in other wood-processing industries like carpentries and sawmills where there are lower levels of wood dust. Sixty-eight personal exposure measurements of wood dust (inhalable and total dust) and resin acids were collected for 44 participants at four production plants located in Sweden. Results were used to estimate within- and between-worker variability and to identify uniformly exposed groups and determinants of exposure. In addition, overexposure, whether the risk of the long-term mean exposure of a randomly selected worker exceeding the occupational exposure limit is acceptably low, was calculated as well as the underestimation of the exposure-response relationship (attenuation). Greater variability in exposure between work shifts than between workers was observed with the within-worker variation accounting for 57-99% of the total variance in the individual-based model. Several uniformly exposed groups were detected but were mostly associated with a between-worker variation of zero which is an underestimation of the between-worker variation but an indication of uniformly exposed groups. Cleaning was identified as a work task that increases exposure slightly; so reducing workers' exposure during this operation is advisable. The levels of wood dust were high and were found to pose unacceptable risks of overexposure at all plants for inhalable dust and at three out of four plants for total dust. These findings show that exposure to dust needs to be reduced in this industry. For resin acids, the exposure was classed as acceptable at all plants. According to an individual-based model constructed from the data, the level of attenuation was high, and thus there would be substantial bias in derived dose-response relationships.

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Accession: 034181026

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 18703543

DOI: 10.1093/annhyg/men052

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