Objectives: 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.Methods: Analysis of the temporal trend in exposure concentrations was performed using Linear Mixed Effect Models on the log-transformed NEDB data set and expressed as the relative annual change in concentration.Results: For the NEDB 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.Conclusion: 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.
- Wood dust
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health