Pulmonary Function Abnormalities in Never-Smoking Flight Attendants Exposed to Secondhand Tobacco Smoke in the Aircraft Cabin

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine whether the flight attendants who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in the aircraft cabin have abnormal pulmonary function.

Methods:

We administered questionnaires and performed pulmonary function testing in 61 never-smoking female flight attendants who worked in active air crews before the smoking ban on commercial aircraft (preban).

Results:

Although the preban flight attendants had normal FVC, FEV1, and FEV1/FVC ratio, they had significantly decreased flow at mid- and low-lung volumes, curvilinear flow-volume curves, and evidence of air trapping. Furthermore, the flight attendants had significantly decreased diffusing capacity (77.5% ± 11.2% predicted normal) with 51% having a diffusing capacity below their 95% normal prediction limit.

Conclusions:

This cohort of healthy never-smoking flight attendants who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in the aircraft cabin showed pulmonary function abnormalities suggestive of airway obstruction and impaired diffusion.

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