The Influence of Workplace Environment on Lung Function of Flour Mill Workers in Jalgaon Urban Center

School of Environmental Sciences, North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon, India.
Journal of Occupational Health (Impact Factor: 1.11). 10/2006; 48(5):396-401. DOI: 10.1539/joh.48.396
Source: PubMed


The workplace environment affects the health of workers. Unhygienic conditions are observed in the workplace environment of flour mills as fine organic flour dust gets airborne in the indoor environment of the flour mills. The present work was undertaken to study the health problems related to the workplace environment of flour mill workers. The results show that flour mill workers are receiving a heavy dose (average exposure concentration, 624 microg/m3) of flour dust. To determine the impact of flour dust on the lung function of the workers spirometric analysis was conducted. Significant declines in forced vital capacity (FVC), peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) were observed in the flour mill workers as compared to expected values. This study reveals reduced lung efficiency of flour mill workers due to excessive exposure to fine organic dust prevalent in the workplace environment. The impairment in lung efficiency was increased with duration of exposure in the flour mill workers. The analysis of questionnaires used to generate information on self-reported problems reveals that most of the workers were suffering from asthma and respiratory problems. Furthermore, the data shows that 42% of the flour mill workers were having shortness of breath problems, 34% of workers were having frequent coughing, and 19% workers were having respiratory tract irritation. We recommend the compulsory use of personal protective equipment (nose mask) by flour mill workers during working hours. This would help to protect the workers health from the flour dust prevalent in the workplace environment. A regular periodic examination is necessary to measure the impact of particulate matter on the health of the flour mill workers.

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    • "These particles attach to the inner wall of the respiratory tract and disturb the process of inhalation and exhalation of air. The inner cell wall of the respiratory tract does not accept the foreign particles (flour dust), causing a slight irritation in the respiratory tract which is the primary symptom of respiratory disorder [43]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective To assess the effect of exposure to flour dust on respiratory symptoms and lung function of flour mill workers and to estimate the additive effect of smoking on pulmonary function. Patients and methods This study was carried out at flour mills in Sohag Governorate. Two hundred male workers with current exposure to flour dust and two hundred non-exposed male as a control group were interviewed and self designed study questionnaire was administered to them and the parameters of their pulmonary function were measured. Results Respiratory symptoms such as cough, expectoration, wheezing, and shortness of breath, were significantly (p < 0.0001) higher among exposed workers as compared to unexposed. Furthermore highly significant (p < 0.0001) decrements in the pulmonary function of exposed subjects were noted. Moreover, a highly significant decline in FEV1%, FVC% and FEV1/FVC% was noticed regarding the duration of exposure to flour dust (p < 0.0001). Also, there was a highly significant difference between heavily exposed compared to lightly exposed subjects (p < 0.001). The additive effect of smoking was noticed as there was a highly significant decline of FVC%, FEV1%, FEV1/FVC%, FEF25% and FEF75% in smokers compared to non-smokers (p < 0.0001). Conclusion Flour mill workers in Sohag Governorate, like grain workers elsewhere, were at an increased risk of developing pulmonary symptoms, a strong association exists between exposure to flour dust and the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and functional impairments of the lungs. The result has implications for improved dust control measures in the grain industry in Egypt.
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the concentrations of respirable flour dusts and gliadin as well as gliadin-specific serum antibodies in exposed workers of Hamadan wheat flour mill factories. Blood samples from 95 exposed workers and 80 air samples from flour packing, husk packing, flour production and wheat unloading areas were collected. Respirable flour dust density was measured by a gravimetric method, and dust gliadin concentration as well as serum antibodies were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The Time-weighted average (TWA) flour dust density was higher in all factories (1.56-4.68 mg/m(3)) compared with the threshold limit value (0.5 mg/m(3)) of ACGIH and showed a positive correlation with the gliadin concentration (p<0.05). Additionally, the respirable dust and gliadin concentrations were significantly higher at flour packing workstations compare with the other work areas. Moreover, the mean serum gliadin-specific IgA and IgG and total IgE antibodies were remarkably higher in exposed mill workers compared with the controls (p<0.05). We clearly demonstrated that workers in Hamadan flour mills are in exposed to a hazardous level of respirable flour dust, receiving the highest level of dust and gliadin in flour packing areas. Furthermore, dust-exposed workers showed upper levels of serum antibodies indicating exposure to higher amounts of allergens than controls.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Journal of Occupational Health
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: The main purpose of this study was to investigate the respiratory effects of exposure to high airborne concentrations of wheat flour dust. Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out at a local wheat flour mill in Shiraz, southern Iran. Thirty-five male workers exposed to flour dust and 32 healthy male nonexposed employees were investigated. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms among them was evaluated and parameters of their pulmonary function were measured. Moreover, to assess the extent to which subjects were exposed to flour dust, airborne concentrations of its inhalable and respirable fractions were measured. Results: Airborne concentrations of dust exceeded current permissible level. The prevalence of regular cough, productive cough, wheezing, phlegm and dyspnea was significantly higher in exposed subjects than in nonexposed employees. Similarly, both acute and chronic significant (p < .05) decrements in most parameters of pulmonary function were noted. Conclusions: Our findings provide corroborative evidence to further support the notion that exposure to flour dust is associated with a significant increase in the prevalence of respiratory symptoms as well as ventilator disorders of the lungs.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2012 · International journal of occupational safety and ergonomics: JOSE
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