Occupational Asthma Reference

Wiggans RE, Evans G, Fishwick D, Barber CM, Asthma in furniture and wood processing workers: a systematic review, Occup Med, 2016;66:193-201,10.1093/occmed/kqv149

Keywords: wood, oa, review, uk

Known Authors

David Fishwick, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK David Fishwick

Chris Barber, Health and Safety Laboratories, Buxton Chris Barber

Gareth Evans, HSL, Buxton Gareth Evans

Ruth Wiggans, Manchester University Ruth Wiggans

If you would like to become a known author and have your picture displayed along with your papers then please get in touch from the contact page. Known authors can choose to receive emails when their papers receive comments.


Wood dust is a common cause of occupational asthma. There is potential for high exposure to wood dust during furniture and wood manufacturing processes.

To evaluate the evidence for non-neoplastic respiratory ill health associated with work in the furniture and wood manufacturing sector.

A systematic review was performed according to PRISMA guidelines. Articles were graded using SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guideline Network) and MERGE (Methods for Evaluating Research Guidelines and Evidence) criteria, with data grouped by study outcome.

Initial searches identified 1328 references, from which 55 articles were included in the review. Fourteen studies were graded A using MERGE or >2++ using SIGN. All but one paper describing airway symptoms reported an increased risk in higher wood dust exposed workers in comparison to lower or non-exposed groups. Five studies reporting asthma examined dose response; three found a positive effect. The relative risk for asthma in exposed workers in the single meta-analysis was 1.5 (95% CI 1.25–1.87). Two studies reported more obstructive lung function (forced expiratory volume in 1 s [FEV1]/forced vital capacity < 0.7) in exposed populations. Excess longitudinal FEV1 decline was reported in female smokers with high wood dust exposures in one study population. Where measured, work-related respiratory symptoms did not clearly relate to specific wood immunoglobulin E positivity.

Work in this sector was associated with a significantly increased risk of respiratory symptoms and asthma. The evidence for wood dust exposure causing impaired lung function is less clearly established. Further study is required to better understand the prevalence, and causes, of respiratory problems within this sector.

Full Text


Please sign in or register to add your thoughts.

Oasys and occupational asthma smoke logo