The ventilatory function of 406 male former coal miners who had presented at the Cook County Hospital occupational medicine clinic between January 1976 and April 1987 was studied to determine whether subsequent exposure to respiratory hazards after leaving the coal mines adversely affected lung function. The miners were divided into five exposure groups based on their exposure to respirable hazards. These were coal dust only, coal dust plus asbestos dust, coal dust plus silica dust, coal dust plus another respirable hazard and coal dust plus two other respirable dust exposures. Duration of employment in coal mines, race, smoking history, and mean age were not significantly different between the various exposure groups. No significant difference was found in the per cent of predicted forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), per cent of predicted forced vital capacity (FVC), and FEV1/FVC when the coal dust only group was compared with each of the other four exposure groups using ANOVA. Among former coal miners who present for a respiratory disability determination, therefore, exposure to respirable hazards subsequent to employment in coal mines is not associated with a statistically significant deterioration in ventilatory function.
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