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Endotoxin exposure-response in a fiberglass manufacturing facility.

Milton DK; Wypij D; Kriebel D; Walters MD; Hammond SK; Evans JS
Am J Ind Med 1996 Jan; 29(1):3-13
A study of occupational exposure to possible bronchoconstrictive agents and their effects on lung function were studied in fiberglass manufacturing workers. The study group consisted of 37 males, mean age 45 years, with high prevalence of wheeze, chronic airflow obstruction, and asthma medication usage. The subjects wore personal monitors and recorded peak expiratory flows (PEFs) for 5 or 6 days. Spirometric testing was performed at the beginning and ending of a work shift. Personal exposure monitoring for endotoxin, phenol resin, and formaldehyde (50000) was performed. PEF variability was assessed by computing the amplitude percent mean PEF (APM). The home amplitude percentage mean PEF (HAPM) was similarly computed from the PEF data on nonwork days. Eight subjects reported being diagnosed with asthma by a physician, six were judged to have developed asthma after starting to work at the facility. Height, ever smoking, and pack years of smoking were significantly correlated with 1 second forced expiratory (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC). Asthma was not significantly associated with baseline FEV1 and FVC values, but the mean percent predicted FEV1 was lower among those who had been diagnosed with asthma. HAPM was significantly negatively correlated with FEV1. The 8 hour time weighted average (TWA) exposures were: endotoxin, 0.4 to 759 nanograms per cubic meter (ng/m3); phenolic resin, 5.7 to 327 micrograms per cubic meter (microg/m3); and formaldehyde, 1.2 to 265microg/m3. AMP was significantly correlated with years since starting work in areas having high levels of endotoxin exposure. TWA endotoxin exposures above 4ng/m3 were significantly correlated with decreases in PEF over a workshift and 16 to 20 hours (hr) after exposure. Phenolic resin exposures showed no consistent associations with lung function. Formaldehyde exposure was not associated with any decrements in lung function. The authors conclude that exposure to endotoxin in the fiberglass manufacturing facility was associated with decreases in PEF over a workshift that can also be detected 16 to 20hr later. Acute and chronic airway inflammation results from exposure to endotoxin in a concentration range of 4 to 15ng/m3. Exposure to phenolic resins and formaldehyde does not seem to have any significant effect on respiratory health.
Pulmonary system disorders; Fiberglass industry; Endotoxins; Occupational exposure; Bronchial asthma; Pulmonary function tests; Respiratory system disorders; Industrial hygiene;
Environmental Health Harvard School of Public Hlth 665 Huntington Ave Boston, MA 02115
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Journal Article
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Pulmonary System Disorders
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American Journal of Industrial Medicine
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Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division