Sixteen working welders with more than seven years' exposure and a chest radiograph suggestive of siderosis and 13 healthy unexposed men were studied. Each subject had a comprehensive medical and work history, physical examination, standard chest film, and pulmonary function investigation (lung volumes, ventilatory capacities, pulmonary compliance in static and dynamic conditions, specific compliance, and elastic work of breathing).
Seven of the welders had some exertional dyspnoea and three complained of cough. Although spirographic values were generally within the normal range, the arc welders had a statistically significant reduction in static and functional compliance. Seven had a functional compliance under the lower limit of the control group. Differences in elastic work of breathing and specific compliance were not significant.
The possible causes of pulmonary function impairment in welders are discussed.
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