Nonsmoking Grain Handlers in Saskatchewan: Airways Reactivity and Allergic Status

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This study was carried out to determine whether respiratory disease in Saskatchewan grainhandlers was or was not due to hypersensitivity to grain dust. Sixty nonsmoking grainhandlers, half of whom had low FEV1/FVC ratios and half of whom had high, were studied. The findings in grainhandlers were compared with those in 30 age-matched, nonsmoking teachers. In the group of grainhandlers with low FEV1/FVC ratios, one had developed asthma associated with exposure to grain dust. The majority were healthy, had FEV1/FVC ratios of 70% or greater, and had less evidence of allergic respiratory disease than had agematched teachers. The studies suggest that non-atopic, nonsmoking men can work in grain elevators without developing respiratory disability, though they may develop a small but significant increase in nonspecific bronchial reactivity to histamine.

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