Objectives: Potential health effects related to wood dust from the rubber tree, which produces natural rubber latex, have not been investigated earlier. The main aim of this study was to investigate the relations of rubber tree dust exposure to respiratory and skin symptoms, asthma and lung function.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 103 workers (response rate 89%) in a rubber tree furniture factory and among 76 office workers (73%) from four factories in Thailand. All participants answered a questionnaire and performed spirometry. Inhalable dust levels were measured in different work areas.
Results: Factory workers showed increased risk of wheezing, nasal symptoms, and asthma compared to office workers. There was dose-dependent increase in wheeze and skin symptoms in relation to dust level. Significantly increased risks of nasal symptoms (adj.OR 3.67, 95%CI 1.45-9.28) and asthma (8.41, 1.06-66.60) were detected in low exposure category. Workers exposed to ethyl cyanoacrylate glue had significantly increased risk of cough, breathlessness and nasal symptoms. There was dose-dependent reduction in spirometric lung function with wood dust level.
Conclusions: This study provides new evidence that workers exposed to wood dust from the rubber tree seem to experience increased risk of nasal symptoms, wheeze, asthma and skin symptoms and have reduced spirometric lung function. Exposure to cyanoacrylate is related to significantly increased respiratory symptoms. Results suggest that furniture industry using rubber tree should implement appropriate exposure control measures to reduce wood dust exposure as well as cyanoacrylate glue exposure to protect their employees.
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