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Thoracic dust exposure is associated with lung function decline in cement production workers

We hypothesised that exposure to workplace aerosols may lead to lung function impairment among cement production workers. Our study included 4966 workers in 24 cement production plants. Based on 6111 thoracic aerosol samples and information from questionnaires we estimated arithmetic mean exposure levels by plant and job type. Dynamic lung volumes were assessed by repeated spirometry testing during a mean follow-up time of 3.5 years (range 0.7–4.6 years). The outcomes considered were yearly change of dynamic lung volumes divided by the standing height squared or percentage of predicted values. Statistical modelling was performed using mixed model regression. Individual exposure was classified into quintile levels limited at 0.09, 0.89, 1.56, 2.25, 3.36, and 14.6 mg·m−3, using the lowest quintile as the reference. Employees that worked in administration were included as a second comparison group. Exposure was associated with a reduction in forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1), forced expiratory volume in 6 s and forced vital capacity. For FEV1 % predicted a yearly excess decline of 0.84 percentage points was found in the highest exposure quintile compared with the lowest. Exposure at the higher levels found in this study may lead to a decline in dynamic lung volumes. Exposure reduction is therefore warranted.

Nordby, Karl-Christian; Notø, Hilde Pettersen; Wijnand, Eduard; Skogstad, Marit; Fell, Anne Kristin Møller; Thomassen, Yngvar; Skare, Øivind; Bergamaschi, Antonio; Pietroiusti, Antonio; Abderhalden, Rolf; Kongerud, Johny; Kjuus, Helge
European Respiratory Journal European Respiratory Society, European Respiratory Journal 48(2): 331–339
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