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J Occup Med Toxicol. 2008 Feb 26;3:6. doi: 10.1186/1745-6673-3-6.

A prospective study of decline in lung function in relation to welding emissions.

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Department of Occupational Medicine, Arhus Hospital, Arhus University Hospital, Arhus, Denmark.



Numerous cross-sectional studies have reported reduced lung function among welders but limitations of exposure assessment and design preclude causal inference. The aim of this study was to investigate if long-term exposure to welding fume particulates accelerates the age-related decline in lung function.


Lung function was measured by spirometry in 1987 and 2004 among 68 steel welders and 32 non-welding production workers. The decline in forced expiratory volume (FEV1) was analysed in relation to cumulated exposure to fume particulates among welders during the follow-up period.


Among smokers the decline in FEV1 through follow-up period was in average 150 ml larger among welders than non-welders while the difference was negligible among non-smokers. The results did not reach statistical significance and within welders the decline in lung function was not related to the cumulated welding particulate exposure during follow-up period


Long-term exposure to welding emissions may accelerate the age-related decline of lung function but at exposure levels in the range of 1.5 to 6.5 mg/m3 the average annual excess loss of FEV1 is unlikely to exceed 25 ml in smokers and 10 ml in non-smokers.

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