Objectives The purpose of the study was to determine the prevalence of spontaneous abortion in workers exposed to organic solvents in the wood-processing industry.
Method A retrospective combined cross-sectional and case-control study was performed. Female workers from a wood-processing factory were monitored for a 10-year period through periodic clinical exams and epidemiologic surveys. Only fertile female workers were monitored, infertile workers (postmenopausal, status post hysterectomy) were excluded. The level of organic solvents was measured in the air during the study period. Each exposed fertile female was matched to a corresponding control subject without exposure to organic solvents. The prevalence rate of spontaneous abortions was evaluated in both groups.
Results During the study period, the organic solvents levels exceeded several times the maximal admissible concentrations. There were 366 exposed fertile female workers. The prevalence of spontaneous abortions in the exposed group was higher compared to the reference group and general public. The majority of abortions happened in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Conclusions Long-term exposure to organic solvents may cause decreased fertility in female workers. The goal for all facilities and workers is to minimise occupational exposure to noxious agents.
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