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Blog - Slip Testing

Wood Dust and Effects on Health

Posted 21st May 2014, Carl Strautins


1      Links to Cancer

Wood dust has been linked to cancers, particularly of the nose.  Additionally, wood dust occupational exposure in carpenters, joiners, wood mill workers, etc. has been linked to asthma. Wood dust from hard wood species such as Oak and Beech are known carcinogens. No epidemiological data is currently available on wood dust from Australian wood species. Often wood dust exposure is accompanied by exposure to other wood treatments such as formaldehydes, pesticides and solvents which are known to cause various cancers.

2      Wood Dust Control

There are no epidemiological studies conducted on Australian wood species. Australian exposure standards are based on American species.

2.1    Occupational Exposure limits

Table 1 Safework Australia Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS)

Standard Name




Carcinogen Category

Wood dust (soft wood)




Wood dust (certain   hardwoods such as beech & oak)




The best way to control wood dust at work is to design a suitable extraction system with suitable air flow to minimise exposure to airborne wood dust.

3      Where to start

Safe Environments provides qualified occupational hygienists to measure and monitor the level of exposure to wood dust at your work place.  Producing data on inhalable wood dust exposure and real time wood dust monitoring using Dustrack ™ II or AS 3640 Workplace atmospheres – Method for sampling and gravimetric determination of inhalable dust, to evaluate your current work place practices and assist you in improving procedures and extraction systems as required.


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