The effects of exposure to organic dust on the respiratory system of potato processing workers.
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Ann Agric Environ Med 2002;9(2):243–247
A cross-sectional study was carried out to evaluate lung function and the prevalence of work-related symptoms in workers of a potato processing plant located in Lublin region (eastern Poland). The study group comprised 61 workers employed in 2 departments. The examination included: physician-administrated questionnaire on occurrence of work-related symptoms, occupational history and smoking habits. Spirometry was performed before (7:00-8:00) and after (16:00-17:00) the morning shift. Altogether 41/61 (67.2%) subjects reported at least one symptom associated with their job. Pulmonary symptoms were recorded in 28/61 (45.9%) subjects. The most commonly recorded complaints were: cough (44.3%), hoarseness (19.7%), shortness of breath (18%), followed by headache and skin lesion (13.1% each), and eye and nose irritation (11.5%). The prevalence of work-related symptoms (except for eye and nose irritation) was higher in the group of subjects working longer than 4 years (the difference was statistically significant only for skin lesion). Among non-smoking workers a significantly higher prevalence of headache was seen compared to smokers (Fisher's test, p<0.05). Smokers complained more frequently of respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, hoarseness and chest pain. The difference was significant only for cough (p<0.05). A statistically significant over-shift decline in all measured spirometric values: FVC, FEV(1) (p<0.001), FEV(1)/VC (p<0.05), PEF (p<0.01) was observed.