Document Type : Original Article
Occupational Medicine Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Background: Workers in dairy products companies are exposed to different respiratory hazards. The current study aimed at investigating and comparing the prevalence of pulmonary function parameters, signs, and symptoms in the exposed workers and office staff.
Materials and Methods: The current cross sectional study was conducted in 2015 on 864 employees working in a dairy products company in Tehran, Iran. The subjects included 646 employees exposed to respiratory hazards at the production line and the other group consisted of 218 staff not exposed to respiratory hazards in the production line as the unexposed group. Demographic characteristics and the presence of respiratory symptoms and signs were gathered using a checklist. Spirometric indices including FEV1, forced volume vital capacity (FVC), and FEV1/FVC were measured for the study participants.
Results: Although exposure to the respiratory hazards among participants of the exposed group was lower than permitted limits, the frequency of respiratory signs and symptoms were significantly higher than those of the unexposed staff. In the current study, mean percentage of FVC, FEV1/FVC, and FEV1 were significantly less than the predicted amount in the exposed group than in the unexposed group.
Conclusion: Although the frequency of respiratory signs and symptoms was lower than those of other similar studies, abnormal spirometric patterns were common; hence, it can be pointed out that even in the work environments, such as dairy products industry with below the permissible exposure limit of respiratory risks, multiple spirometric disorders can be observed. In other words, the absence of respiratory signs and symptoms are insufficient and application of different pulmonary function tests, such as spirometry, seem essential for assessment.