Respiratory function in sewage workers.
Zuskin E; Mustajbegovic J; Schachter EN
Am J Ind Med 1993 May; 23(5):751-761
The respiratory health of municipal sewer system workers was studied. The cohort consisted of 74 persons employed in cleaning the sewer system of Zagreb, Croatia. The comparisons consisted of 50 persons employed in bottling and fruit juice production factories. The subjects completed a questionnaire to obtain information on respiratory and other symptoms and occupational and smoking histories. Pulmonary function testing was performed. Twenty six subjects worked in confined unventilated areas (closed channel workers), 31 were involved in cleaning open drainage systems (drainage workers), and 17 worked in other areas. Approximately 54% of the sewer workers and comparisons were current smokers. The prevalence of chronic cough, phlegm, bronchitis, and chest tightness was significantly higher in the cohort than in the comparisons. Among the sewer workers, the prevalence of these symptoms was significantly higher in the closed channel and drainage workers than in the other workers. Closed channel workers reported significantly higher prevalences of acute symptoms such as eye irritation, headache, dizziness, dyspnea, and throat irritation than the drainage or other workers. Mid (FEF50) and terminal expiratory flows (FEF25s) were significantly decreased in the total cohort relative to the comparisons. The decreases were most pronounced in the closed channel workers whose FEF50s and FEF25s were consistently below 80% of predicted. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms and decrements in FEF50 and FEF25 were more pronounced in smokers in all groups. The authors conclude that sewer system cleaning workers experience frequent acute and chronic respiratory symptoms and are at risk for respiratory dysfunction.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Grant; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Sewer-cleaning; Pulmonary-function-tests; Epidemiology; Respiratory-system-disorders; Clinical-symptoms; Questionnaires; Occupational-hazards; Tobacco-smoke; Confined-spaces
Medicine Mount Sinai Medical Center One Gustave L Levy Place New York, N Y 10029
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York