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J Occup Health year 2006 volume 48 number 3 page 216 - 222
Classification Occupational Health /Safety in the world
Title Factors Related to the Prevalence of Respiratory Symptoms in Workers in a Petrochemical Complex
Author Jong PARK1, Chul-Gab LEE2 and So-Yeon RYU1
Organization 1Department of Preventive Medicine and 2Department of Occupational Medicine, College of Medicine, Chosun University, Korea
Keywords Prevalence, Respiratory symptoms, Related factors, Petrochemical complex workers
Correspondence J. Park, Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Chosun University, #375 Seosuk-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju 501-759, Republic of Korea
(e-mail: jpark@chosun.ac.kr)
Abstract Factors Related to the Prevalence of Respiratory Symptoms in Workers in a Petrochemical Complex: Jong PARK, et al. Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Chosun University, Korea-This study was performed to evaluate the prevalence of respiratory symptoms in workers in a petrochemical complex and to elucidate the relationship between the prevalence and work-related factors. A questionnaire was distributed to 5,983 male workers working in a petrochemical complex. As for the respiratory symptoms, cough was present in 2.4%, phlegm in 8.1%, wheezing in 2.8% and shortness of breath in 4.7% of the workers. The factors significantly related to respiratory symptoms were smoking history, wearing of protective devices, handling of substances toxic to the respiratory system, and history of atopy or respiratory disease (p<0.05). The substances toxic to the respiratory system were divided into 4 types, ie., dusts, solvents, metals, and vapors. When the analysis was performed to evaluate the effects of exposure to substance type on respiratory symptoms, the odds ratio of cough was 1.96 times higher in those workers exposed to dusts compared with those not exposed, 2.28 times for exposure to metals, 1.52 times for solvents, and 1.55 times for vapors, all showing significant differences (p<0.05). For phlegm, the odds ratio was 1.08 times higher in those workers exposed to dusts compared with those not exposed, 1.94 times for exposure to metals, 1.70 times for organic solvents, and 1.85 for vapors (p<0.05). For wheezing, the odds ratio was 2.38 times for exposure to dusts; for shortness of breath, it was 2.42 times for exposure to dusts, 2.89 times for metals, 2.10 times for organic solvents, and 2.14 times for vapors, all showing significant differences (p<0.05). In conclusion, work-related factors significantly affected the respiratory symptoms in workers working in the petrochemical complex. Especially, these respiratory symptoms were significantly related to exposure to toxic substances and the wearing of protective devices. Thus, safety education and management are needed for these workers.