Development of a quantitative North and Central European job exposure matrix for wood dust

Ioannis Basinas*, Tuula Liukkonen, Torben Sigsgaard, Nils T Andersen, Jesper M Vestergaard, Karen S Galea, Martie van Tongeren, Ruth Wiggans, Barbara Savary, Wijnand Eduard, Henrik A Kolstad, Anne Vested, Hans Kromhout, Vivi Schlünssen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Wood dust is an established carcinogen also linked to several non malignant respiratory disorders. A major limitation in research on wood dust and its health effects is the lack of (historical) quantitative estimates of occupational exposure for use in general population-based case-control or cohort studies. The present study aimed to develop a multinational quantitative Job Exposure Matrix (JEM) for wood dust exposure using exposure data from several Northern and Central European countries. For this, an occupational exposure database containing 12653 personal wood dust measurements collected between 1978 and 2007 in Denmark, Finland, France, The Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom (UK) was established. Measurement data were adjusted for differences in inhalable dust sampling efficiency resulting from the use of different dust samplers and analysed using linear mixed effect regression with job codes (ISCO-88) and country treated as random effects. Fixed effects were the year of measurement, the expert assessment of exposure intensity (no, low, and high exposure) for every ISCO-88 job code from an existing wood dust JEM and sampling duration. The results of the models suggest that wood dust exposure has declined annually by approximately 8%. Substantial differences in exposure levels between countries were observed with the highest levels in the United Kingdom and the lowest in Denmark and Norway, albeit with similar job rankings across countries. The jobs with the highest predicted exposure are floor layers and tile setters, wood-products machine operators, and building construction labourers with geometric mean levels for the year 1997 between 1.7 and 1.9 mg/m3. The predicted exposure estimates by the model are compared with the results of wood dust measurement data reported in the literature. The model predicted estimates for full-shift exposures were used to develop a time-dependent quantitative JEM for exposure to wood dust that can be used to estimate exposure for participants of general population studies in Northern European countries on the health effects from occupational exposure to wood dust.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Work Exposures and Health
Pages (from-to)758-771
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023


  • Cohort Studies
  • Dust/analysis
  • Exposure database
  • Exposure modelling
  • Historical exposure assessment
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure/analysis
  • Occupations
  • Time trends
  • Wood dust
  • Wood/chemistry


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