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An epidemiological study of respiratory symptoms in Lancashire mills, 1963-66
  1. M. K. B. Molyneux1,
  2. J. B. L. Tombleson
  1. Department of Occupational Health, University of Manchester
  2. H.M. Medical Inspectorate of Factories

    Abstract

    Molyneux, M. K. B., and Tombleson, J. B. L. (1970).Brit. J. industr. Med.,27, 225-234. An epidemiological study of respiratory symptoms in Lancashire Mills, 1963-66. An epidemiological study of card and blowroom workers in 14 cotton spinning and two man-made fibre spinning mills in Lancashire has been carried out on a prospective basis of six-monthly examinations over three years. The number of operatives to be included was decided so as to give a sufficient sample for the statistical assessment of fall in FEV, at the same time allowing for population movement. The examination of each worker included a history, a questionnaire of respiratory symptoms, and a measurement of forced expiratory volume in one second. The results in this paper, which will be followed by others on other aspects of the survey, give the prevalence of both byssinosis and bronchitis, according to the definition given, in the 1 359 cotton workers and 227 man-made fibre workers, seen at least once, and also the dust levels in the mills. Eight of the mills processed coarse and six medium cotton.

    The total prevalence of byssinosis, as defined, is 26·9%, being higher in coarse than in medium cotton mills, and the occupational groups most affected are strippers and grinders, carders and undercarders, and draw frame tenters. In coarse mills symptoms develop in some men and women within the first four years of exposure, and in medium mills between five and ten years' exposure. Repeat questionnaires in about half the population, two years after the first questionnaire, showed the development of symptoms of chest tightness in an appreciable number not previously affected. The incidence of bronchitis is increased in operatives with symptoms of byssinosis, but is influenced by age and smoking.

    Total dust levels averaged 3·1 mg/m3 in coarse miles and 1·2 mg/m3 in medium mills. The findings indicate that dust control measures, though they have produced considerable improvement, are not now fully effective with present methods of production.

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    Footnotes

    • 1 Present address: Imperial Smelting Corporation (NSC) Ltd., St. Andrews Road, Avonmouth, Bristol, BS11 9HP.

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