Wood Dust Levels in Alberta Sawmills

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Sawmills in the Canadian province of Alberta were surveyed in order to identify occupations at greatest risk and to guide compliance measures. Two hundred and ten wood dust samples (inhalable) were collected from nine Alberta sawmills using Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) personal samplers. Nine percent of samples exceeded 5 mg/m3 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) for total dust. There was a significant statistical difference (p < .001) between the median and geometric mean inhalable particulate matter (IPM) dust levels for 4 aggregated occupational groups. Levels were highest for cleanup workers (3.5 mg/m3), followed by the maintenance, planermill, and sawmill occupational groups, as were other measures of dust levels. In response to these findings, the Alberta Forest Products Association undertook a program to train sawmill managers to implement these recommendations on engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment.

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