More evidence on wood dust and lung cancer

People with substantial exposure to wood dust at work have a greatly increased risk of lung cancer, a study has found. The paper published in January 2015 in the journal Environmental Health concludes there was “evidence of increased risk of lung cancer among workers with substantial cumulative exposure to wood dust.”

Eric Vallières, Javier Pintos, Marie-Elise Parent and Jack Siemiatycki. Occupational exposure to wood dust and risk of lung cancer in two population-based case-control studies in Montreal, Canada,  Environmental Health, volume 14, number 1, 7 January 2015. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-14-1. Risks 686.

2 thoughts on “More evidence on wood dust and lung cancer”

  1. The problem is that it also depends where the wood dust is from. Wood dust per se is a Group 1 carcinogen that has been linked to causing many cancers & other respiratory diseases. They simply don’t know which element of the many in wood dust including wood dust from wood composite boards that is included in the classification, that it is that is the carcinogenic element, but all wood contains crystalline silica naturally which is a known carcinogen. Wood dust from wood composite board is a different kettle of fish, especially so these days, as most is manufactured using ‘recycled waste wood, contaminated old waste wood extracted from construction & demolition wastes from the demolition of old buildings. Hence why it will contain many toxic & carcinogenic elements many of which were banned from use in new building products because they were proven to cause cancers & other disease. Yet they are now being put back into new building products by stealth under the guise of ‘recycling’. So all those previously banned elements will be emitted in the dusts that workers inhale daily. WCB’s also have lots of other routine elements too such as glues, resins, fillers, binders, protective coatings, etc., many of which have crystalline silica added.

    The old contaminated waste wood used in new wood composite boards such as MDF, chipboard/particleboard, fibre cement board is merely extracted from C&D wastes, arrives at ‘recycling’ companies or wood waste reprocessors, & is then often immediately chipped on arriving on site usually by mobile chippers before being reused. No specific sorting takes place usually, even though certain grading is used for whole batches. The contaminants contained, apart from larger chunks of metal, cannot viably be extracted before ‘recycling’, if at all. So waste wood complete with its many toxic & carcinogenic elements such as possibly asbestos, silica, heavy metals, lead, mercury, old pesticides/preservatives/fungicides /biocides, plastics, PVC’s, laminates, protective coatings, varnishes, old paints, etc., is all chipped and included. It’s either used for wood stock for new wood composite boards or the same wood stock is used as fuel for the increasing number of Biomass Incinerators. Burning old waste contaminated wood is harmful, it cannot make it less so. The smoke/emissions are toxic. Dioxins’ and Furans can form. No wonder that infant mortality is so high down wind or nearby Biomass incineration. If pollution kills so many then why not emissions from Biomass Incinerators? Once again particles are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye, so nothing to alert potential victims, apart from possibly an odour.

    Ill health issues are reported in areas too around wood composite board manufacturers and waste wood recycling companies all around the world where wood dust emissions are a very clear issue. Residents are exposed 24/7 with no protection supplied and no monitoring of emissions. A completely different set of legal exposure limit applies between workers inside a plant & those directly beyond the boundary exposed to the same toxic, carcinogenic emissions. Workers exposed for approx. 8 hours, yet residents 24/7, more so if any inversion layers exist in the area.

    So much is being ignored, so much not considered or taken into account that should be.

    It is still not compulsory in the wood industry for employees exposed to wood dust to wear masks, despite them inhaling copious amounts of a known group 1 carcinogen on the same level as asbestos daily. The HSE stance is that want to rely instead on LEV’s. Even though most SME’s readily admit that they struggle to keep them adequately maintained due to financial issues.

    However, the problem with that is that they rely on being properly maintained to be efficient and on filtration processes that can only ever extract the larger particles, it’s how filtration works, it has to allow air out but in doing so it also allows through the filters the smaller, the most harmful of particles, to pass through the filter back into the air. These are so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye, so nothing to alert potential victims, as this dust cannot be seen. So places may look cleaner but are not dust free as most workers would think. They are merely lulled into a false sense of security. The workplace looks cleaner so more likely not to wear a mask. They unwittingly also take these contaminated carcinogenic particles home on work clothes, hair & skin, to contaminate homes and expose loved ones. Where else would this be allowed with any other carcinogen?

    According to WHO there is no known safe level of exposure to any carcinogen. Kind of makes a mockery then of all alleged ‘safe’ working levels, most of which are set anyway based on assumptions, without any medical rationale but most are not aware of that fact.

    Our HSE are failing to protect those in the wood industries and they know that, but as always bow in favour of to industry and profits over peoples health.

    With the increasing use of ‘recycled’ old contaminated wastes being ‘recycled’ back into new building products without any mention on any MSDS, no monitoring, no effective specific legislation, then more ill health and deaths from cancers and other diseases will rise. No wonder really that the incidence rates of asbestos related diseases / cancers are increasing rather than decreasing as you would expect. This is the same problem with other new building products that now rely on recycled wastes, such as new brick, cement, plastics, wood products, gypsum, etc. No wonder new house bricks have been found to contain asbestos. This isn’t just limited to asbestos but includes all those toxic & carcinogenic substances previously banned. Crazy! We are all brainwashed into believing that all ‘recycling’ is good and environmental friendly, so deemed safe when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. We even subsidise recyclers for contaminating new building products. They have no idea of what harmful substances they are recycling or how much. No testing is done to establish it speciate its content. But the industry know enough to know it is harmful. Where better to hide the deadly asbestos that costs so much to dispose of by the proper means than in waste wood recycling. No one checks after all. Much of the asbestos boards are often indistinguishable from non asbestos boards after all, even to the trained eye.

    Seems we never learn from past mistakes that have robbed so many of their ability to work, or worse still their lives. We are storing up a terrible deadly hidden legacy for future generations. How wrong is that?

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