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Chest. 1994 Jun;105(6):1713-21.

Pulmonary function among cotton textile workers. A study of variability in symptom reporting, across-shift drop in FEV1, and longitudinal change.

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Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.


Longitudinal variability in respiratory responses, including symptom reporting and across-shift change in ventilatory function, were examined in relation to long-term loss of ventilatory function in a group of 447 cotton textile workers in Shanghai, China. The study used a standardized respiratory questionnaire and standardized spirometric testing before and after a work shift on the first day of the workweek. Prediction equations for FEV1 were generated from a group of silk textile workers from the same city. Environmental samples included both vertical elutriated cotton dust and endotoxin levels. There was considerable variability in symptom reporting between the baseline and 5-year follow-up survey for all symptoms. However, subjects who consistently reported symptoms had a significantly accelerated 5-year loss in FEV1 compared with those who never reported symptoms. Subjects with symptoms of chest tightness or dyspnea at one survey lost FEV1 at a rate intermediate between the never or both groups. Moreover, subjects with an across-shift change in FEV1 of more than 5 percent at both surveys had the greatest loss in FEV1 over 5 years (-267 ml) when compared with one-time responders (-224 ml), and nonresponders (-180 ml), though the differences were not significant. Workers with chest tightness and chronic bronchitis in both surveys were overrepresented in the high dust and endotoxin areas. Our results indicate that even with substantial survey-to-survey variability in responses, there is important information contained in both questionnaires and across-shift spirometry. Among cotton workers, consistent responders to either symptom questionnaire or across-shift FEV1 decrements of > or = 5 percent appear to be at increased risk for lung function impairment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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