Respiratory effects of exposure to dust from herbs
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Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
Department of Pneumonology, Oncology and Allergology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Corresponding author
Marcin Golec   

Department of Occupational Biohazards, Institute of Agricultural Medicine, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2005;12(1):5-10
A group of 150 people occupationally exposed to dust from herbs were examined.As a reference group, 50 urban dwellers, not exposed to any kind of organic dust were examined. Peoplewere subjected to routine physical examination and to lung function examinations with the LUNGTEST 500spirometer (MES, Kraków, Poland). The spirometric values of the forced expiratory volume in one second(FEV1), vital capacity (VC) and FEV1/VC were recorded before and after work. Physical chest examinationrevealed pathological crepitations in 10 people (6.7%). The mean baseline spirometric values in thestudy and reference groups did not show significant differences compared to the normal values. In theherb workers exposed to organic dust the post-shift decrease of all analysed spirometric values was noted.The post-shift decrease of some spirometric values (VC, VC% of normal values) was highly significant(p<0.01). There was evidenced of a significant positive correlation between the age of examined peopleand decrease of VC and FEV1 values. In 12 exposed workers the decrease of FEV1 or FEV1% of normalvalues higher than 15% was noted. 50% of these workers cultivated thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.). Thismay suggest that dust from herbs, especially thyme dust, may cause acute airway obstruction. In the groupshowing significant decrease of FEV1/FEV1% of normal values ( >15%) the frequency of reportedrespiratory work-related symptoms (83.3%) was higher than in the rest of exposed group (61.5%). Inconclusion, occupational exposure to dust from herbs may cause harmful effects on the respiratory systemamong herb processing workers. This indicates the need for use of prophylactic measures in this professionalgroup, the more so as number of people occupationally exposed to dust from herbs is growing.
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