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J Occup Health year 2004 volume 46 number 5 page 418 - 422
Classification Field Study
Title Environmental Mycological Study and Respiratory Disease Investigation in Tussah Silk Processing Workers
Author Jie CHEN, Jin SHI, Shusen WANG, Sufen YANG, Jiezhi LOU and Zhenlin LIU
Organization Division of Pneumoconiosis, School of Public Health, China Medical University, P. R. China
Keywords Tussah silk processing environment, Respiratory diseases, Fungi
Correspondence J Chen, Division of Pneumoconiosis, School of Public Health, China Medical University, 92 North 2nd Road, Shenyang, 110001, P. R. China (e-mail: chenjie@mail.cmu.edu.cn)
Abstract Environmental Mycological Study and Respiratory Disease Investigation in Tussah Silk Processing Workers: Jie CHEN, et al. Division of Pneumoconiosis, School of Public Health, China Medical University, P. R. China-This study presents the results of an investigation of respiratory symptoms, pulmonary function and chest X-ray examinations, and analysis of antibodies to fungi of 197 tussah silk-processing workers and 40 control workers. An industrial hygiene survey and environmental mycological studies were also conducted. The dust concentrations in tussah silk processing workshops were less than 5.1 mg/m3 on average, with a maximum of 7.8 mg/m3 below the national health limit of 10 mg/m3. Most dusts in all tussah silk processing workshops contained less than 1.2% silica. Numbers of isolated fungi in tussah silk processing workshops [755-6,544 cfu/m3 (colony forming unit/m3), were significantly higher than those in control environments (63-472 cfu/m3). The prevalences of respiratory symptoms in tussah silk processing workers were higher than those in control workers. The prevalences of respiratory symptoms in exposed male non-smoking workers were 44.4% with chronic cough, and 38.9% with chronic phlegm respectively, which were significantly higher than those (12.5%, 12.5% respectively) in male non-smoking control workers (p<0.05). The prevalences in exposed male smoking workers were 42.9% with dyspnea, and 38.1% with chest tightness respectively, which were significantly higher than those (16.7%, 8.3% respectively) in male smoking control workers (p<0.01). The prevalences of respiratory symptoms in exposed female workers were 25.3% with chronic cough, 38.0% with chronic phlegm, 31.0% with dyspnea, and 29.1% with chest tightness respectively, which were significantly higher than those (10.0%, 10.0%, 10.0%, 5.0% respectively) in female control workers (p<0.01). Fifteen exposed workers often suffered from fever. Five X-rays were abnormal and four cases had nodular or patchy shadows. The prevalences of pulmonary function abnormalities in the exposed female group were significantly higher than those in control groups (p<0.01). The OD450nm values for antibodies to fungi in tussah silk processing workers were significantly higher than those of control workers (p<0.05). The positive rates of anti-fungal antibodies in tussah silk-processing workers were also significantly higher than those of control workers (p<0.01). The results suggested that fungi might be one of the main allergens in respiratory diseases in the tussah silk processing workers.