A survey of respiratory symptoms and function was carried out in Dundee among 123 men and women in the jute industry and 242 in the flax industry. The selection of workers was biassed in favour of those working in the dustier departments as judged by eye and those in the older age groups. A group of 72 men in a heavy engineering firm were also selected as controls for comparison.
Chronic bronchitis, as defined by Ogilvie and Newell (1957) was recorded in 27% of those interviewed, whose average age was 49. Byssinosis of various grades was recorded in 30% of all working in flax; of these 35 had cough alone worse on Monday, 34 had other respiratory symptoms worse on Monday and in only four persons did the exacerbation persist longer in the week.
In spite of the occurrence of byssinosis, chronic bronchitis was no more prevalent among flax workers than among the others, the average ventilatory function was no worse, and radiographs of the chest revealed no differences. The characteristic fall in expiratory flow rate during the course of exposure to flax dust on Mondays is similar to that found in cotton workers, and is absent in jute workers and in flax workers not admitting to symptoms of byssinosis.
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An Investigation into Chronic Respiratory Disease in Jute and Flax Industries
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