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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 Sep;144(3 Pt 1):675-83.

Exposure-related declines in the lung function of cotton textile workers. Relationship to current workplace standards.

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Department of Medicine, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112.


To evaluate the effectiveness of the current workplace standards in preventing chronic health effects from cotton dust exposure, a 5-yr longitudinal study of a large multimill population of cotton textile and synthetic process workers, employed at a major U.S. textile company, was conducted. To control for and assess the effect of type of work area on annual change in lung function, we limited the analysis to those 1,817 subjects who, throughout their textile work history at the company, worked exclusively in cotton yarn manufacturing or slashing and weaving, or in synthetic textile mills. The expected effect of smoking on average annual change in lung function was demonstrated for both cotton and synthetic workers. Despite lower overall dust exposure, cotton yarn workers exhibited steeper annual declines in lung function than did workers in slashing and weaving; this difference persisted within each smoking category, indicating a dust potency effect. There were mill differences in annual change in lung function among cotton workers, potentially masking an exposure effect. A smoking-work area interaction persisted after adjusting for mill differences, with the largest annual declines observed in cotton yarn workers who smoke. A significant dose-response relationship was seen in cotton yarn manufacturing between annual declines in FEV1, FVC, and FEF25-75 and average exposure by mill, and the larger declines were found in mills using the highest percentage and lowest grade of cotton. Synthetic textile workers had larger declines than did cotton textile workers, which were not explained by smoking or duration of employment. Unrecognized and unmeasured causative exposures or selection bias could explain this result.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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