A total of 1611 women working in a large electronics company were interviewed using a modified version of the Medical Research Council's questionnaire on respiratory symptoms, and their lung function was tested using a Vitalograph dry wedge spirometer. When the prevalence of symptoms was compared using the chi 2 test among four occupational groups--namely, solderers, ex-solderers, non-solderers, and office workers--few significant differences were found. The group of ex-solderers tended to have a greater prevalence of symptoms than the other three groups. Forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) were measured, and when these were compared for smokers, the office workers were found to have a greater mean age adjusted FVC and FEV1 than the three other groups. The pattern was less distinct for non-smokers. When duration of exposure to solder fumes was allowed for, differences in lung function were more suggestive of being related to smoking habit than occupational exposure to solder fumes.
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