I for Intolerance to wood species  Part 2

The respiratory system is particularly sensitive to fine wood dust. The effects which the nose can exhibit are rhinitis (a runny nose), violent sneezing, a blocked nose, bleeding nose and nasal cancer.

Although relatively rare, nasal cancer is a recognised industrial disease associated with the inhalation of hardwood dusts. The lungs are affected by asthma, impairment of lung function and extrinsic allergic alveolitis. This latter condition is a ‘flu-like’ disease which can cause progressive lung damage, particularly with iroko or western red cedar. Western red cedar is one of the wood dusts which can cause asthma as a specific allergic reaction.

The inhalation of some wood dusts such as South African boxwood can have general

(whole body) effects. These can include headache, thirst, nausea, visual problems, drowsiness, anaemia and hepatitis.

Eyes can exhibit soreness, excessive watering and conjunctivitis when subjected to wood dusts.


- Establish if the timbers you are using have known ill-health effects?

- If possible replace more harmful toxic woods with less harmful ones.

- When using timber known to cause skin problems use suitable protective

   clothing and gloves to protect exposed skin areas.

- Clothing should not trap dust between your clothing and skin.

- Wash well before taking a break and after work.

- Use suitable extraction and respiratory equipment. Ensure it is properly

  maintained and users are trained to use it correctly.

NOTE: The major reference for this article was the HSE information sheet on Toxic Woods Woodworking Sheet No 30 (Revision 1).   The full document can be accessed at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wis30.pdf