Lung volumes and flow rates were compared in clinical studies of 79 black and 1,401 white coal miners. It has been known that the lung functions of vital capacity and forced expiratory volume (one second) of black persons are about 12 percent lower than those of whites. The current studies showed that total lung capacity and residual volume are decreased by about the same percentage. Expiratory flow rates were similarly decreased, but when the difference in lung size was evened out by matching black and white subjects of the same total lung capacity, no significant differences in flow rates were observed. Recently, preemployment spirometry tests have been performed on potential workers who would be exposed to bronchoconstrictive agents. The findings herein could mean that more black job applicants would be rejected on the basis of this test than would white.
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