Institute of

Wood Research


Michaela Höner

Institut für Holzforschung


Leuschnerstraße 91

21031 Hamburg-Bergedorf

Phone: +49 40 73962 601

Fax: +49 40 73962 699



Office Barsbüttel


Haidkrugsweg 1

22885 Barsbüttel

Phone: +49 40 822459 101

Fax: +49 40 822459 199


Take a deep breath!


Can wood emissions promote asthma?



(© Thünen-Institut/Christina Waitkus)

A current study in the journal Environment International by researchers from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research with the participation of the Thünen Institute for Wood Research investigates this question.

At first glance, it may seem absurd that wood products could pose a health risk at all. However, several epidemiological studies have already shown a connection between renovation measures such as new paint coats or floor coverings and an increased risk of respiratory complaints, allergic reactions and chronic bronchitis.

This was due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by the materials into the indoor environment. Given that people spend a large part of their time indoors, the focus is increasingly on indoor air quality and its impact on health and well-being.

Natural materials of organic origin, such as wood, also emit VOCs. The composition and the level of emissions vary greatly between different types of wood and wood-based materials. In the current study, the effects of pine wood and rough particleboard (OSB), which are characterised by comparatively high terpene and aldehyde emissions, respectively, were examined in more detail. These substances are also responsible for the characteristic odour of the wood products, which is often perceived as pleasant.

Based on experiments in the mouse model, it could be shown that these wood-typical emissions do not promote the development of asthma or respiratory tract inflammations even in the case of long-term exposure. Even VOC exposure during the particularly sensitive phase of pregnancy did not lead to any adverse health effects in the animals' offspring.

Contact Person: Dr. Martin Ohlmeyer

More informations: ScienceDirect