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Pattern and predictors for respiratory illnesses and symptoms and lung function among textile workers in Karachi, Pakistan
  1. Asaad Ahmed Nafees1,
  2. Zafar Fatmi1,
  3. Muhammad Masood Kadir1,
  4. Nalini Sathiakumar2
  1. 1Division of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Asaad Ahmed Nafees, Division of Environmental Health Sciences, Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, P.O. Box-3500, Karachi (74800), Pakistan; asaad.nafees{at}aku.edu

Abstract

Objectives To determine pattern and predictors for respiratory illnesses and symptoms and lung function among textile workers in Karachi, Pakistan.

Methods This was a cross-sectional survey of 372 adult male textile workers from the spinning and weaving sections of 15 textile mills from Karachi. Data were collected from November to December 2009 through a structured, pretested questionnaire and spirometry.

Results Prevalence of byssinosis was 10.5%, chronic cough 7.5%, chronic phlegm 12.9%, wheeze with shortness of breath 22.3%, shortness of breath (grade 2) 21%, chest tightness ever 33.3%; whereas, a low prevalence of asthma (4%) was identified in this population. Eight per cent had obstructive, 8% restrictive and 2% mixed pattern of lung function abnormality. After controlling for potential confounders, work in the spinning section predicts frequent wheeze (AOR=2.0; 95% CI 1.1 to 3.5), wheeze with shortness of breath (AOR=1.8; 95% CI 1.0 to 3.4), and obstructive pattern on spirometry (AOR=2.5; 95% CI 1.0 to 6.2). Prolonged duration of work predicts breathlessness grade 1 (AOR=1.8; 95% CI 1.0 to 3.1) and grade 2 (AOR=2.7; 95% CI 1.3 to 5.4), as well as decrements in Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second (FEV1) and FEV1/Forced Vital Capacity ratio. Lack of education predicts frequent wheeze (AOR=2.0; 95% CI 1.2 to 3.3), and Sindhi ethnicity predicts chest tightness apart from during cold (AOR=2.7; 95% CI 1.1 to 6.6).

Conclusions This study highlights the burden of respiratory illnesses and symptoms, and a low prevalence of asthma among textile workers in Karachi. Work in the spinning section, lack of education, prolonged duration of work and Sindhi ethnicity, were identified as important risk factors.

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