oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Work-related asthma among workers in the wood-processing industry : a review : allergies in the workplace

Volume 29, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



Various studies, including some in Africa, have reported an association between occupational exposure to wood dust and known probable asthma. Globally, the prevalence of asthma in woodworkers is between 5.6% and 18%; in Africa it is between 3% and 7%. This review focuses on epidemiological evidence from studies performed around the world to interrogate the evidence for the association between the exposure to wood dust and asthma. The review confirms a positive association between occupational exposure to wood dust and asthma. However, it has identified some limitations in the literature that relate to variable diagnostic criteria and epidemiological definitions for asthma: a lack of objective markers of asthma such as non-specific challenge tests and other inflammatory markers as well as markers for allergic sensitisation; understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms involved in the causation of asthma; limited number of studies of other agents present in wood dust such as endotoxins, glucans, terpenes and wood dust allergens; and the limited number of epidemiological studies investigating the dose-response relationships for allergens and other agents causing rhinitis and asthma among workers exposed to wood dust. These issues need to be addressed in future studies contemplating further investigation in this field.

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