Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ecology and Environmental Sciences


Robert Rice

Second Committee Member

Jean MacRae

Third Committee Member

Samantha Langley-Turnbaugh


The detrimental effects of exposure to particulate matter on human health are seen frequently in medical journals, newspapers, and television. The dangers associated with exposure to high levels of ambient particulate matter are undeniable. The objectives of this study were to assess the levels of particulate matter in some areas of sawmills in Maine and to develop an understanding of which areas in sawmills are likely to have high concentrations of particulate matter. The vast majority of the particulate matter in sawmills is wood dust, which compounds the danger of the workers particulate matter exposure because wood dust is recognized as a human carcinogen by groups such as the American Council of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC). The concentration of particulate matter in four sawmills in Maine was measured using both a gravimetric and real time sampler. The concentrations in the mills measured using gravimetric methods during both summer and winter sampling were well below the limits set by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA 1999). However, the concentrations measured during the winter were frequently above the recommended wood dust exposure limits established by the National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the ACGIH. The areas within the mills that were measured as having the highest concentration of thoracic particulate matter, particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns and smaller, were variable, but frequently were in the general area of equipment such as the headrig and debarker. The highest concentrations of total suspended particulate matter, all dust in the air, were generally more concentrated than the thoracic particulate matter and were always measured in areas influenced by the headrig and or the debarking system.