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Flock workers' exposures and respiratory symptoms in five plants.

Daroowalla-F; Wang-ML; Piacitelli-C; Jones-WG; Attfield-MD; Kreiss-K
Eur Respir J 2002 Sep; 20:(Suppl 38):324s
Background: Sentinel cases of lymphocytic bronchiolitis in flock production and coating operations triggered a five-plant study of the relationship between respirable dust and symptoms. Methods: Cross-sectional standardized interviews of 219 (84%) current workers provided health outcomes and job histories which were linked to a job-exposure matrix derived from personal measurements averaged by job. Univariate group comparisons and multivariate modeling tested for relations between indices of exposure to respirable flock dust and both prevalent respiratory and systemic symptoms and persistent incident symptoms since onset of flock industry employment. Results: Respiratory symptoms and repeated flu-like illness were associated with 1) use of compressed air to clear equipment and work areas, 2) bagging operations, and 3) higher average respirable dust exposure (current and cumulative). Use of compressed air for cleaning, with resulting high peak exposures, had a greater or equal effect than smoking status on most symptoms. When controlled for smoking and use of compressed air, shortness of breath increased by 30% for every mg-yr/m3 of cumulative respirable dust exposure in a plant with an average respirable dust exposure of 0.09 mg/m3, excluding exposures using compressed air with average peak exposures of 1.06 mg/m3. Conclusions: Prevention of occupational lung disease in these plants with low exposures requires elimination of compressed air cleaning, engineering to further lower task exposures, particulate respirator use, and longitudinal followup to provide guidance for a dust exposure level without adverse respiratory health effects.
Lung-disease; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Respirable-dust; Textile-workers; Textiles; Textiles-industry; Fibrous-dusts; Compressors; Occupational-exposure; Lymphocytes; Dust-exposure; Smoking; Occupational-diseases; Engineering-controls; Workplace-monitoring; Workplace-studies; Surveillance
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, 1095 Willowdale Road, Mail Stop, H-2800, Morgantown, WV 26505
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Journal Article
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Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
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European Respiratory Journal