Lung Health Among Electricians in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Abstract

Respiratory symptoms, lung function, and radiographic changes among 100 actively employed electricians in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with 20 or more years of union membership were compared with those of 100 telephone workers. Posteroanterior chest radiographs were evaluated by two experienced chest physicians, with a third arbitrating films that were disagreed upon. Employment in a number of industrial sectors was compared for time and for time-weighted exposure to dust and fumes. Compared with telephone workers, electricians had more usual cough (odds ratio [OR] = 3.36; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.36-8.31), usual phlegm (OR = 2.44; 95% CI, 1.01-5.86), chronic phlegm (OR = 2.74; 95% CI, 1.13-6.60), and shortness of breath (OR = 2.26; 95% CI, 1.10-4.67), but no differences in lung function. The prevalence of radiographic changes in both groups was low. The electricians had more radiographic changes, but only for the category "any change" was the difference statistically significant (OR = 5.2; 95% CI, 1.06-23.93). Only two electricians had small irregular opacities. Phlegm, chronic phlegm, and chest tightness were significantly associated with cumulative exposure to fumes in the gas and oil industry and to total industrial construction.

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