Risks to health from wood dust
Wood processing causes small particles of wood dust to become suspended in the air. Workers can inhale these particles. A person’s upper respiratory system can filter out the larger particles, but smaller particles can go deep into the lungs causing damage and scarring to the lung tissue. Each time this happens a small amount of irreversible damage occurs. This damage reduces the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen and over time makes it increasingly difficult to breathe.
The presence of glues, resins, formaldehyde and other wood treatment chemicals in some wood products increase the health risks from wood dust.
Risks presented by breathing in dust
Regularly breathing in dust can cause diseases like:
- lung cancer
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, including emphysema and other breathing difficulties)
- silicosis (including accelerated and acute silicosis).