Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology vol:2 pages:11
ABSTRACT: Occupational exposures play a role in the onset of several chronic airway diseases. We investigated, in a cross-sectional study, lung function parameters and bronchial hyper-responsiveness to histamine in workers exposed to different airborne compounds.The study group totalled 546 male subjects of whom 114 were exposed to welding fumes, 106 to solvents, 107 to mineral dust, 97 to organic dust and 123 without known exposure to airway irritants. A questionnaire was administered and spirometry and bronchial responsiveness to histamine were assessed by one observer, in the morning before work to prevent effects of acute exposure.The mean (SD) age of the participants was 39.3 (7.8) years, with a mean duration of employment of 13.8 (6.6) years. Both before and after adjustment for smoking status, forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1, expressed as % predicted) was lower in welders -4.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], -6.3 to -1.8; p = 0.01) and workers exposed to solvents -5.6% (CI: -7.9 to -3.3; p = 0.0009) than in control subjects. Furthermore, solvent workers had an odds ratio of 3.43 (95% CI: 1.09-11.6; p = 0.037) for bronchial hyperresponsiveness compared with the reference group.The higher prevalence of bronchial hyperresponsiveness in solvent workers adds to the growing body of evidence of adverse respiratory effects of occupational solvent exposure. These results point to the necessity of preventive measures in solvent workers to avoid these adverse respiratory effects.