Smith, G. F., Coles, G. V., Schilling, R. S. F., and Walford, Joan (1969).Brit. J. industr. Med.,26, 109-114. A study of rope workers exposed to hemp and flax. Respiratory symptoms and ventilatory capacities were studied in 54 men and 22 women exposed to the mixed dusts of hemp and flax in an English rope factory. The preparers and most of the spinners were exposed on average to concentrations of 1·7 mg./m.3 total dust and 0·5 mg./m.3 fine dust. Those employed on subsequent processes had lower exposures at concentrations of 0·5 mg./m.3 total dust and 0·1 mg./m.3 fine dust.
Six men, all in the high exposure group, had symptoms of byssinosis. After adjustment for age and standing height there was no statistically significant difference in the forced expiratory volume (F.E.V.1·0) between those in high dust concentrations and those in low concentrations; neither was there a significant difference between the ventilatory capacities of men with and without byssinosis.
This study shows that byssinosis is an occupational hazard confined to male workers in this factory. It does not appear to be a very serious problem and will diminish with the increasing use of synthetic materials instead of natural fibres.
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