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Characterisation of respiratory health and exposures at a sintered permanent magnet manufacturer.

Deng F; Sinks T; Elliott L; Smith D; Singal M; Fine L
Br J Ind Med 1991 Sep; 48(9):609-615
A survey of respiratory health and exposures was conducted for 310 current and 52 retired hourly workers employed for at least 10 years at a midwestern sintered rare earth magnet manufacturer. The subjects completed a questionnaire to obtain information on biodemographic characteristics, work and medical history, respiratory symptoms, and smoking. Chest X-rays were obtained and interpreted according to International Labor Organization (ILO) criteria. OSHA 200 logs for the period January 1984 to September 1988 were examined to calculate the incidence of recorded respiratory system disorders. The data were compared with results obtained previously in an external population of blue collar workers not exposed to fibrogenic dusts. Industrial hygiene sampling for metal dusts and respirable silica (14808607) was performed. Only data for the current workers were analyzed. The prevalence of chronic cough and bronchitis was 15 and 9%, respectively. The prevalence of both symptoms was significantly higher in smokers than in nonsmokers. Approximately 25% of the cohort reported dyspnea and 9% reported wheezing. Approximately 3% of the workers had spirometric evidence of a restrictive deficit and 2% evidence of an obstructive defect. The prevalence of spirometric abnormalities and symptoms in the workers was not significantly higher than in the blue collar population. Four workers had radiographic opacities indicative of pneumoconiosis. Two had ILO category 1/0 lesions and two category 1/2 or greater lesions. Three episodes of asthma in two workers and one case each of dyspnea, chemical bronchitis, and small airway obstruction were recorded in the OSHA 200 logs. Cobalt (7440484), nickel (7440020), neodymium (7440008), samarium (7440199), and respirable silica were detected at geometric mean concentrations of 17.5, 4.4, 2.6, 3.6, and 9.0 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively. Eighteen of 100 cobalt, 15 of 100 nickel, and four of 18 respirable silica samples were above the relevant standards. The authors conclude that a health hazard exists at the facility due to exposure to cobalt, nickel, and silica dusts.
NIOSH-Author; Epidemiology; Clinical-symptoms; Metal-dusts; Respiratory-system-disorders; Pulmonary-function-tests; Health-survey; Occupational-exposure; Metal-workers
14808-60-7; 7440-48-4; 7440-02-0; 7440-00-8; 7440-19-9
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British Journal of Industrial Medicine
Page last reviewed: September 11, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division