An epidemiological and environmental survey of 170 bagasse workers employed by a raw sugar producing company in Trinidad was carried out in order to assess the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and to determine if exposure to bagasse was associated with alterations in ventilatory capacity.
The epidemiological survey failed to reveal a significantly increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms in the more exposed group but showed that the group of Indian workers who were regularly and continuously exposed to bagasse had a significantly lower ventilatory capacity than the control group. This diminished ventilatory capacity was demonstrated despite negligible dust concentrations in the plant. However, the possibility that persistent exposure to low concentrations of bagasse may be the cause must be considered.
During a five-year period, 17 patients with bagassosis were seen, the clinical picture being similar to that described in extrinsic allergic alveolitis from other causes.
The systematic variations demonstrated in some indices of ventilatory function in different racial groups are discussed.
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