November 9, 2023

California Department of Public Health Highlights Asthma Linked to Wood Dust

A new video produced by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) focuses on the prevention of work-related asthma from exposure to wood dust. The state’s Work-Related Asthma Prevention Program (WRAPP), which works to identify industries, occupations, and exposures that put workers at risk for work-related asthma, has found nearly 140 workers in a variety of settings who link their asthma to wood dust on the job. Workers exposed to wood dust include carpenters, cabinet makers, loggers, and artists. According to WRAPP, the industry comprising the manufacture of wood products has the fifth highest rate of asthma in California. The new video follows two workers, showcasing their experiences working with wood and highlighting the importance of preventing exposure to wood dust during everyday work tasks. The video is published to CDPH’s YouTube channel and can be viewed by both English and Spanish speakers.

Other resources from CDPH and WRAPP include a booklet on wood dust and work-related asthma that was published in 2017 and is available in English (PDF), Spanish (PDF), and traditional Chinese (PDF).

According to federal OSHA, breathing wood dust particles may cause allergic respiratory symptoms, mucosal and non-allergic respiratory symptoms, and cancer. The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards states that wood dust is a potential occupational carcinogen and that exposure to it may lead to symptoms including asthma, cough, wheezing, sinusitis, and prolonged colds.

“The extent of these hazards and the associated wood types have not been clearly established,” OSHA explains.

Related: An article titled “Sound the Alarm: Should We Be Worried About Wood Dust Exposures?” was published in January 2011 issue of The Synergist. AIHA members can access a PDF copy of the issue from Catalyst (member login required).