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Bronchitis in two integrated steel works: III. Respiratory symptoms and ventilatory capacity related to atmospheric pollution
  1. C. R. Lowe,
  2. H. Campbell,
  3. T. Khosla
  1. Department of Social and Occupational Medicine, Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff

    Abstract

    Lowe, C. R., Campbell, H., and Khosla, T.(1970).Brit. J. industr. Med.,27, 121-129. Bronchitis in two integrated steel works. III. Respiratory symptoms and ventilatory capacity related to atmospheric pollution. This is the third in a series of papers presenting the results of an epidemiological study of respiratory symptomatology and lung function among men employed in two integrated steel works in South Wales. In this paper measurements of atmospheric pollution are related to respiratory symptoms and ventilatory capacity among 10 449 men who spent the greater part of their working hours in one or other of 114 defined working areas.

    The problem has been explored in three different ways. In the first, each man was assigned the mean value of sulphur dioxide and respirable dust for the area in which he was working and this was related to his ventilatory capacity (FEV1·0), age, smoking habits, and the number of years he had spent in his present department. In the second, the 114 working areas were divided into four sub-groups, according to defined levels of atmospheric pollution, and the prevalence of chronic bronchitis and mean FEV1·0 in the four sub-groups was examined. In the third way, the mean atmospheric pollution levels in each of the 114 areas were related to the prevalence of bronchitis and to the mean FEV1·0, age, and smoking habits in those areas.

    The analysis demonstrates very clearly the over-riding importance of cigarette smoking in the aetiology of chronic bronchitis, but, so far as the main purpose of the survey is concerned, it is concluded that, if there is any relation between respiratory disability and atmospheric pollution in the two steel works, it is so slight that none of the three approaches to the problem was sensitive enough to detect it.

    The implications of this are discussed in the light of the levels of pollution that were recorded in and around the two works.

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