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Studies on the aetiology of byssinosis
  1. Geoffrey Taylor,
  2. A. A. E. Massoud,
  3. F. Lucas
  1. University of Manchester and Shirley Institute, Manchester


    Taylor, G., Massoud, A. A. E., and Lucas, F. (1971).Brit. J. industr. Med.,28, 143-151. Studies on the aetiology of byssinosis. A condensed polyphenol based on leucocyanidin has been extracted from the cotton plant. The reaction between this material and human serum has been demonstrated using both a precipitin and a passive agglutination technique. Sera from 196 cardroom workers not suffering from byssinosis, 177 byssinotic cardroom workers, and 203 controls were tested for reactivity with the condensed polyphenol using the passive agglutination technique. Significant differences in mean titres were obtained between cardroom workers and controls and between byssinotic and non-byssinotic cardroom workers. It was shown that while the mean titre in non-byssinotic cardroom workers remains relatively constant with respect to duration of employment, the titre in those cardroom workers suffering from byssinosis shows a progressive rise with duration of cardroom exposure.

    Inhalation of solutions of the condensed polyphenol by normal control subjects and by non-byssinotic cardroom workers produced neither symptoms nor changes in FEV1·0 or FVC. On the other hand, inhalation of the material by byssinotic cardroom workers induced symptoms identical with those experienced on exposure in the cardroom on Mondays. Because of the subjective nature of byssinosis, this inhalational study was repeated as a double-blind trial which completely confirmed the above observations.

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