The diurnal variation in peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) was studied in 24 mixers and 24 non-mixers in three polyvinylchloride (PVC) compounding plants and 24 non-PVC controls from a marine police workshop. The three groups (all men) were matched for age, race, and smoking. The mean respirable dust concentration (essentially PVC dust) was 1.6 mg/m3 for mixers and 0.4 mg/m3 for nonmixers. The mean diurnal variation in PEFR of the mixers was 6.5%. This was significantly higher than the 4.8% for non-mixers and 4.3% for the non-PVC controls. Six mixers had a diurnal variation of more than 15% on at least one day compared with none among the other two groups. Twenty nine per cent of mixers complained of wheezing compared with 4% of non-mixers and none among non-PVC workers. These differences were significant. Forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) for the mixers was 10% below the predicted values whereas that of non-PVC workers was 2% below predicted values. The study indicates a significant acute airway constriction from occupational exposure to PVC dust.
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