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Exposure to wood dust, resin acids and volatile organic compounds during production of wood pellets
Örebro University, Department of Natural Sciences.
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2008 (English)In: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, ISSN 1545-9624, E-ISSN 1545-9632, Vol. 5, no 5, p. 296-304Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The main aim of this study was to investigate exposure to airborne substances that are potentially harmful to health during the production of wood pellets, including wood dust, monoterpenes, and resin acids, and as an indicator of diesel exhaust nitrogen dioxide. In addition, area measurements were taken to assess background exposure levels of these substances, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide. Measurements were taken at four wood pellet production plants from May 2004 to April 2005. Forty-four workers participated in the study, and a total of 68 personal measurements were taken to determine personal exposure to wood dust (inhalable and total dust), resin acids, monoterpenes, and nitrogen dioxide. In addition, 42 measurements of nitrogen dioxide and 71 measurements of total dust, resin acids, monoterpenes, VOCs, and carbon monoxide were taken to quantify their indoor area concentrations. Personal exposure levels to wood dust were high, and a third of the measured levels of inhalable dust exceeded the Swedish occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 2 mg/m3. Parallel measurements of inhalable and total dust indicated that the former were, on average, 3.2 times higher than the latter. The data indicate that workers at the plants are exposed to significant amounts of the resin acid 7-oxodehydroabietic acid in the air, an observation that has not been recorded previously at wood processing and handling plants. The study also found evidence of exposure to dehydroabietic acid, and exposure levels for resin acids approached 74% of the British OEL for colophony, set at 50 microg/m3. Personal exposure levels to monoterpenes and nitrogen dioxide were low. Area sampling measurements indicated that aldehydes and terpenes were the most abundant VOCs, suggesting that measuring personal exposure to aldehydes might be of interest. Carbon monoxide levels were under the detection limit in all area measurements. High wood dust exposure levels are likely to have implications for worker health; therefore, it is important to reduce exposure to wood dust in this industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis , 2008. Vol. 5, no 5, p. 296-304
National Category
Occupational Health and Environmental Health Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-2860DOI: 10.1080/15459620801957225OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-2860DiVA, id: diva2:135365
Available from: 2008-02-01 Created: 2008-02-01 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Occupational exposure during production of wood pellets in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Occupational exposure during production of wood pellets in Sweden
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aims of the studies underlying this thesis were to assess workers’ air exposure to wood dust and various chemicals, and to evaluate the variability in exposure and occupational dermal exposure to resin acids during the production of wood pellets in Sweden. Personal air measurements of wood dust, monoterpenes, resin acids and nitrogen dioxide (as a marker of diesel exhaust), accompanied by area measurements of these substances, VOCs and carbon monoxide, were performed at up to ten plants. Repeated measurements were also performed to evaluate within- and between-worker variability, determinants of exposure, the probability that a worker’s mean exposure exceeded the occupational exposure limit, OEL (overexposure), and the bias in the exposure-response relationship (attenuation).

Dermal exposure was measured at the forehead, neck, forearm and hand using a tape-stripping method, in which a strip of adhesive tape is applied to the skin and then removed along with the outermost layer of the skin and chemicals adsorbed to this layer. The workers’ exposure to wood dust was high (mean: 2.4 mg/m3), with 35−42 % of the measurements above the Swedish OEL of 2 mg/m3. The exposure is also classified as unacceptable due to the calculated levels of overexposure. Exposure to resin acids like 7-oxodehydroabietic acid and dehydroabietic acid was identified, which has not been previously observed in the wood industry, with mean sum levels of 2.4 _g/m3. Levels of monoterpenes, nitrogen dioxide, VOCs and carbon monoxide were all below their Swedish OELs. A factor that influenced the level of exposure to wood dust and resin acids was the nature of the work done, notably cleaning operations, like sweeping, which increased the exposure slightly. The attenuation was high for the individual-based model, and at least 12 repeated measurements were needed to yield a bias in the exposureresponse relationship of _10 %. The results also showed that dermal exposure to resin acids occurs in these plants, which has not been shown before, and provided indications of both increased exposure during a work shift and diffusion into the skin. The main conclusion is that wood dust exposure at these levels is likely to have implications for the workers’ health in the long run, and, therefore, it is important to reduce exposure to wood dust in this industry.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet, 2008. p. 75
Series
Örebro Studies in Environmental Science, ISSN 1650-6278 ; 11
Keyword
Occupational hygiene, wood dust, resin acids, VOC, variability, determinant of exposure, overexposure, dermal exposure
National Category
Occupational Health and Environmental Health
Research subject
Enviromental Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-1726 (URN)978-91-7668-571-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-02-22, Wilandersalen, M-huset, Universitetssjukhuset, Örebro, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2008-02-01 Created: 2008-02-01 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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