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J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Jul;41(7):582-8.

Prevalence of self-reported respiratory symptoms in workers exposed to isocyanates.

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  • 1Service de Médecine du Travail et des Risques Professionnels, Faculté de Médecine de la Timone, Marseille, France.


Until now, no survey had been conducted to assess the prevalence of respiratory symptoms in a large population that had been occupationally exposed to isocyanates, compared with that in a control group. We performed such a survey, using questionnaires administered by occupational physicians. Overall, 1114 workers' questionnaires (585 exposed and 529 control) were analyzed. Exposed workers, primarily painters from small factories, reported significantly (P < 0.05) more wheezing (8.6% vs 3.6%), more breathlessness with wheezing (3.4% vs 0.6%) in the last year, and more rhinitis (33.1% vs 19.1%) than did control workers. A trend for more asthma (2.1% vs 0.8%; P < or = 0.07) was also observed. Furthermore, 16.4%, 16.2%, and 10.6% of exposed workers reported (respectively) cough, rhinitis, and chest tightness when working in contact with isocyanates. We conclude that isocyanate-exposed workers demonstrate significantly higher prevalence rates of rhinitic and asthmatic symptoms than do control subjects.

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