OBJECTIVES: To determine frequency and type of respiratory and allergic symptoms in textile workers employed in early stages of wool processing. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was carried out in four wool textile mills. 202 subjects (n. 148 males, 54 females, mean age 38.9 yrs, SD 9.5) employed in early stages (combing, n. 138, carding, n. 64) of wool processing were examined and an environmental survey was carried out to determine the level of wool dust exposure. All subjects were submitted to clinical interview, spirometry and measurement of serum specific IgE (s-IgE) against extracts of two wool lots (Australia and New Zealand) by means of RAST. In the subjects with a positive questionnaire for allergic symptoms serum specific IgE for common pneumoallergens were measured (PHADIATOP test). RESULTS: We found higher air dust concentrations during carding operations (inspirable fraction-IF-: range 1.6-20 mg/m3; respirable fraction (RF): 0.5-6.9 mg/m3) and lower concentrations during combing (IF 0.3-0.7 mg/m3, RF 0.1-0.3 mg/m3). 70 out of 202 subjects (34.7%, n. 26 employed in carding and n. 44 in combing operations) reported work-related symptoms. Cutaneous itching was reported by 30 subjects, upper airway irritation by 24, ocular irritation by 17 and dyspnoea by 5. Globally 27 subjects (13.4%) had respiratory work-related symptoms. 12 subjects reported only seasonal respiratory symptoms not related to work. Within the group of 82 symptomatic subjects, 62 (75.6%) had serum specific IgE for common pneumoallergens. In the whole group (n. 202) mean basal FEV-1 was L 3.6, SD 0.9 (103.6% of predicted values). No significant difference was found in basal FEV-1 between carding and combing workers. No s-IgE against the two wool extracts was detectable in any of the 202 examined subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Our data show that in early stages of wool processing: 1) the overall frequency of respiratory work-related symptoms is low and does not seem to be related to the stages of processing, 2) symptoms are mainly nasal and/or ocular; 3) serum s-IgE against wool extracts are not detectable. We conclude that respiratory allergy risk in wool textile mills is low.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Giornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro ed Ergonomia|
|Publication status||Published - 2000|