Assessment of exposure to oak wood dust using gallic acid as a chemical marker
Objectives The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has classified oak dust as a human carcinogen (A1), based on increased sinus and nasal cancer rates among exposed workers. The aims of this study were to investigate the use of gallic acid (GA) as a chemical marker of occupational exposure to oak dusts, to develop a high-performance liquid chromatography–diode array detector method to quantify GA and to apply the method in the analysis of oak dust samples collected in several factories.
Methods A high-performance liquid chromatography method was developed to detect GA in oak wood dust. The method was tested in the field, and GA was extracted from inhalable oak wood dust collected using the Institute of Occupational Medicine inhalable dust sampler in the air of five woodworking plants where only oak wood is used.
Results A total of 57 samples with dust concentrations in the range of 0.27–11.14 mg/m3 were collected. Five of these samples exceeded the Italian threshold limit value of 5 mg/m3, and 30 samples exceeded the ACGIH TLV of 1 mg/m3. The GA concentrations were in the range 0.02–4.18 µg/m3. The total oak dust sampled was correlated with the GA content with a correlation coefficient (r) of 0.95.
Conclusions The GA in the tannic extracts of oak wood may be considered a good marker for this type of wood, and its concentration in wood dust sampled in the work environment is useful in assessing the true exposure to carcinogenic oak dust.