Pulmonary Function Impairment from Exposure to Mixed Organic Solvents in Male Shipyard Painters

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Abstract

Objectives:

This study aimed to examine the effects of chronic exposure to organic solvents on lung function in a shipyard painters.

Methods:

Male workers in the shipyard painting department were selected as the organic solvents exposure group. Exposure was classified according to the type of work usually performed, and the cumulative exposure index was obtained using the results of biological monitoring. These were then used to divide the exposure group into low-exposure and high-exposure groups, and the dose-response relationships were examined for decreased lung function. For ventilation indices, we obtained the forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1), the FEV1/FVC ratio, and the maximal mid-expiratory flow (MMF) from the forced expiratory flow-volume curve and also calculated these as percentages of the predicted values.

Results:

FVC and FEV1 showed no significant differences among the control, and low-exposure and high-exposure groups, but FEV1 as a percentage of its predicted value (%FEV1) decreased with increasing exposure at 90.0%, 90.9%, and 90.0% in the control, low-exposure, and high-exposure groups, respectively. MMF% predicted also decreased significantly at 98.5%, 90.1%, and 88.4% in the control, low-exposure, and high-exposure group, respectively, indicating that workers exposed to organic solvents showed obstructive respiratory disease.

Conclusions:

Exposure to organic solvents is associated with obstructive pulmonary dysfunction rather than restrictive pulmonary dysfunction.

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