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Endemic Byssinosis in an Egyptian Village
  1. Mostafa A. El Batawi,
  2. Mohamed Hussein
  1. High Institute of Occupational Health, University of Alexandria, Egypt

    Abstract

    Previous epidemiological surveys of flax byssinosis may have underestimated the incidence of permanent pulmonary disability by failing to reach those who have had to leave work. In the present study a representative sample of the inhabitants of a village where flax is processed both in the homes and in small plants was examined for byssinosis. The one in five random sample included a total of 190 male family heads living in the village. Dust exposure was evaluated. The study showed that 48·4% of the sample had byssinosis, and this included 92·5% of those working with flax in their homes and 75% of those working in plants. Permanent disability from byssinosis was present in 2·6% of the total sample and 12·1% of those exposed to dust for more than 20 years, whereas 75·8% of the latter group had symptoms of the earlier grades of byssinosis. It is concluded that prolonged exposure to flax dust did not result in a high incidence of permanent disability, and that is disability is not necessarily an eventual outcome in flax byssinosis. The absence of air pollution in the village may play a role in lowering the probability of workers becoming disabled by byssinosis in spite of the high prevalence of symptoms.

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