American Journal of Public Health Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-669X ISSN (Online): 2327-6703 Website: Editor-in-chief: Apply for this position
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Public Health Research. 2018, 6(2), 65-71
DOI: 10.12691/ajphr-6-2-9
Open AccessSpecial Issue

Respiratory Symptoms and Pulmonary Function among Workers in a Rubber Wood Sawmill Factory in Thailand

N. Chaiear1, , J. Ngoencharee2 and N. Saejiw3

1Division of Occupational Medicine, Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University; Thailand

2International SOS Thailand, Wittayu Towers, Bangkok, Thailand

3Faculty of Science and Industrial Technology, Prince of Songkla University, Surat Thani Campus, Surat Thani, Thailand

Pub. Date: March 22, 2018

Cite this paper:
N. Chaiear, J. Ngoencharee and N. Saejiw. Respiratory Symptoms and Pulmonary Function among Workers in a Rubber Wood Sawmill Factory in Thailand. American Journal of Public Health Research. 2018; 6(2):65-71. doi: 10.12691/ajphr-6-2-9


Objectives: 1) To determine the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and abnormal pulmonary function among workers exposed to different levels of rubber wood dust (RWD) and 2) to determine the factors which may be associated with the respiratory effects. Methods: The study population was 340 workers working in a rubberwood sawmill factory in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, Southern Thailand. Respiratory health questionnaires and spirometric testing according to the ATS 1994 criteria were performed. Workers were classified into three groups by the RWD levels; low RWD (≤ 1.9 mg/m3); moderate RWD (2.0-4.9 mg/m3); and high RWD (≥ 5.0 mg/m3). Results: A total of 279 workers (59 male and 220 female) were participated in the study. Their average age and work duration were 36.7 years (SD=8.5) and 6.2 years (SD=4.1), respectively. The prevalence rate of upper and lower respiratory symptoms were 67.0% and 63.1% respectively. The prevalence of abnormal spirometric testing result was 20.6 % (obstructive type 4.4 %, restrictive type 10.5 %, and small airway disease 5.7 %). These prevalence rates were not significantly different according to the RWD level. However, the factors which were significantly associated with the upper respiratory symptoms were being female [OR 2.03 (95%CI 1.10, 3.78)] and being atopy [OR 3.63 (95%CI 1.88, 7.0)]. The factor which was significantly associated with lower respiratory symptoms was a family of asthma [OR 3.95 (95%CI 1.32, 11.7)]. Conclusion: Exposure to rubber wood dust is associated with a high prevalence of respiratory illnesses and being atopic person takes a high risk of work related respiratory illnesses.

rubber wood dust spirometry asthma work related asthma

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Soongkhang, I., Laohasiriwong, W. Respiratory Tract Problems among Wood Furniture Manufacturing Factory Workers in the Northeast of Thailand. Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ), 13 (50). 125-129. Apr-Jun. 2015.
[2]  Krawczyk-Szulc, P., Wiszniewska, M., Pałczyński, C., Nowakowska-Świrta, E., Kozak, A., Walusiak-Skorupa, J. Occupational asthma caused by samba (Triplochiton scleroxylon) wood dust in a professional maker of wooden models of airplanes: a case study. Int J Occup Med Environ Health, 27 (3). 512-519. Jun. 2014.
[3]  Hancock, D.G., Langley, M.E., Chia, K.L., Woodman, R.J., Shanahan, E.M. Wood dust exposure and lung cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Occup Environ Med, 72 (12). 889-898. Dec. 2015.
[4]  Aranda, A., Campo, P., Palacin, A., Doña, I., Gomez-Casado, C., Galindo, L., Díaz-Perales, A., Blanca, M. Antigenic proteins involved in occupational rhinitis and asthma caused by obeche wood (Triplochiton scleroxylon). PLoS One, 8(1). e53926. 2013.
[5]  Ayalew, E., Gebre, Y., De, Wael, K. A survey of occupational exposure to inhalable wood dust among workers in small-and medium-scale wood- processing enterprises in Ethiopia. Ann Occup Hyg, 59 (2). 253-257. Mar. 2015.
[6]  Jacobsen, G., Schaumburg, I., Sigsgaard, T., Schlunssen, V. Non-malignant respiratory diseases and occupational exposure to wood dust. Part II. Dry wood industry. Ann Agric Environ Med, 17 (1). 29-44. 2010.
[7]  Jacobsen, G., Schaumburg, I., Sigsgaard, T., Schlunssen, V. Non-malignant respiratory diseases and occupational exposure to wood dust. Part I. Fresh wood and mixed wood industry. Ann Agric Environ Med, 17 (1).15-28. 2010.
[8]  Gonzalez-Garcia, M., Caballero, A., Jaramillo, C., Maldonado, D., Torres-Duque, C.A. Prevalence, risk factors and underdiagnosis of asthma and wheezing in adults 40 years and older: A population-based study. J Asthma, 52 (8). 823-830. Oct. 2015.
[9]  Wiggans, R.E., Evans, G., Fishwick, D., Barber, C.M. Asthma in furniture and wood processing workers: a systematic review. Occup Med (Lond), 66 (3).193-201. Apr. 2016.
[10]  Mohan, M., Aprajita, Panwar N.K. Effect of wood dust on respiratory health status of carpenters. J Clin Diagn Res, 7 (8).1589-1591. Aug. 2013.
[11]  Saejiw, N., Chaiear, N., Sadhra, S. Exposure to wood dust and its particle size distribution in a rubberwood sawmill in Thailand JOEH, 6 (8): 483 -490. 2009.
[12]  Chaiear, N., Sadhra, S., Jones, M., Cullinan, P., Foulds, I.S., Burge, P.S. Sensitisation to natural rubber latex: an epidemiological study of workers exposed during tapping and glove manufacture in Thailand. Occup Environ Med, 58 (6). 386-391. 2001.
[13]  Ratnasingam, J., Scholz, F., Natthondan. Particle size distribution of wood dust in rubberwood (Hevea Brasiliensis) furniture manufacturing. Eur J Wood Wood Prod, 68 (2). 241-242. 2010.
[14]  Sripaiboonkij, P., Phanprasit, W., Jaakkola, M.S. Respiratory and skin effects of exposure to wood dust from the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis. Occup Environ Med, 66 (7). 442-447. Jul. 2009.
[15]  Czuppon, A.B., Chen, Z., Rennert, S., Engelke, T., Meyer, H.E., Heber, M., Baur, X. The rubber elongation factor of rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis) is the major allergen in latex. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 92 (5). 690-697. Nov. 1993.
[16]  Skovsted, T.A., Schlünssen, V., Schaumburg, I., Wang, P., Staun-Olsen, P., Skov, PS. Only few workers exposed to wood dust are detected with specific IgE against pine wood. Allergy, 58 (8). 772-779. Aug. 2003.
[17]  Borm, P.J., Jetten, M., Hidayat, S., van de, Burgh, N., Leunissen, P., Kant, I., Houba, R., Soeprapto, H. Respiratory symptoms, lung function, and nasal cellularity in Indonesian wood workers: a dose-response analysis. Occup Environ Med, 59 (5). 338-344. May. 2002.
[18]  Matheson, M.C., Dharmage, S.C., Abramson, M.J., Walters, E.H., Sunyer, J., de Marco, R., Leynaert, B., Heinrich, J., Jarvis, D., Norbäck, D., Raherison, C., Wjst, M., Svanes, C. Early-life risk factors and incidence of rhinitis: results from the European Community Respiratory Health Study--an international population-based cohort study. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 128 (4). 816-823.e5. Oct. 2011.
[19]  Falagas, M.E., Mourtzoukou, E.G., Vardakas, K.Z. Sex differences in the incidence and severity of respiratory tract infections. Respir Med, 101(9). 1845-1863. Sep. 2007.
[20]  Siracusa, A., Desrosiers, M., Marabini, A. Epidemiology of occupational rhinitis: prevalence, aetiology and determinants. Clin Exp Allergy, 30 (11). 1519-1534. Nov. 2000.
[21]  Burke, W., Fesinmeyer, M., Reed, K., Hampson, L., Carlsten, C. Family history as a predictor of asthma risk. Am J Prev Med, 24 (2).160-169. Feb. 2003.