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Scand J Work Environ Health. 1986 Feb;12(1):40-5.

Respiratory disease in cotton textile workers in the People's Republic of China. I. Respiratory symptoms.


The prevalence of byssinosis and nonspecific respiratory symptoms was studied in 887 textile workers with at least two years of employment in two cotton mills and one silk mill in Shanghai, the People's Republic of China. A standardized respiratory questionnaire was used, and environmental sampling was performed with vertical elutriators and colorimeter grading. Eight percent of the cotton textile workers complained of byssinosis. The reports of byssinosis were mostly mild (grade 1/2), more prevalent among women, and unrelated to duration of employment or elutriator dust levels. Nonspecific respiratory symptoms were significantly more prevalent among cotton textile workers than silk workers. After adjustment for age, gender, and smoking in logistic regression models, the odds ratios for the effect of working in cotton textile mills on chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, and frequent chest illness were 3.3, 2.9 and 4.7, respectively. Although none of the symptoms were related to current dust levels, the range of exposures was narrow, and information was only available on current levels of cotton dust. This study represents the first respiratory survey of the textile industry in China using diagnostic criteria similar to that used in the United States and England; it defines a cohort for prospective investigation.

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