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Chronic bronchitis in ex-coal miners working in the steel industry
  1. C. R. Lowe,
  2. T. Khosla
  1. Department of Social and Occupational Medicine, Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff

    Abstract

    Lowe, C. R., and Khosla, T. (1972).Brit. J. industr. Med.,29, 45-49. Chronic bronchitis in ex-coal miners working in the steel industry. Data are presented comparing ventilatory capacity and prevalence of chronic bronchitis in 3 012 ex-coal miners and 9 361 non-miners of similar age and social class, all employed at the time of the investigation in two intergrated steel works in South Wales.

    The ex-miners had substantially more chronic bronchitis and a poorer ventilatory capacity than the non-miners irrespective of age and smoking habits. Among smokers, 24·9% of ex-miners aged 45 to 54 had chronic bronchitis compared with 18·6% of non-miners. The corresponding prevalence rates among non-smokers of the same age group were 12·0 and 7·7 respectively.

    Smoking was a more important factor than coal mining. For example, the non-miners aged 45 to 54 who smoked had a higher prevalence rate of chronic bronchitis (18·6%) than the ex-miners who had never smoked (12·0%). Smoking also appeared to be a more important factor than age. For the non-miners who had never smoked there was no increase in prevalence with age; it remained at about 5% in adult life (25 to 34) until near retirement (55 to 64).

    Among the ex-miners the ventilatory capacity showed a decline with increasing number of years spent below ground, with a tendency to level off after 10 to 15 years. The mean ventilatory capacity of ex-miners aged 45 to 54 years who had worked 10 or more years below the ground equalled the mean level of non-miners 10 years older, in the age group 55 to 64 years. The possibility that the movement of bronchitics out of coal mines may explain these differences is discussed.

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