Indexed on: 01 Nov '00Published on: 01 Nov '00Published in: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Objective: In this study the relationship has been studied between exposure time and potential prognostic factors and FEV1 percent predicted (FEV1-% pred) in workers with potroom asthma, after their transfer from exposure to exposure-free departments. Methods: Between 1970 and 1990 in a Dutch aluminium-production plant, 179 workers had been diagnosed as having potroom asthma. We carried out a follow-up study (n=122) in the population still present at the factory 5 years after their relocation to an exposure-free department. In this study population, we examined the relationship between FEV1-% pred at follow-up, and exposure time: the time interval between start of exposure and diagnosis. To correct for confounding factors, we included age, pre-employment FEV1-% pred, allergy, medical treatment, and smoking in the analysis. Results: The mean FEV1-% pred at follow-up was within the normal range (90.3, SD 13.5). Long exposure time was significantly associated with a low FEV1-% pred at follow-up (P=0.0046). Adjustment was necessary for pre-employment FEV1-% pred and current smoking as confounding factors. Conclusion: Long duration of exposure is a factor affecting FEV1 in workers with potroom asthma. The results of this study give support for additional preventive measures to be taken, such as early recognition of work-related respiratory complaints and repeated education.