Kapok is a cotton-like fibre obtained from the fruits of Ceiba pentandra, a tree surgeon in tropical countries. In Sri Lanka ginning of kapok is usually done by machine in poorly ventilated buildings where workers are exposed to a great deal of dust. Forty-one workers in five ginneries in Colombo were examined. Mill fever occurred in 28 (77-8%) of the 36 workers who were able to give a history. Chronic bronchitis, which is an uncommon condition in Sri Lanka, was detected to seven workers with an average of 20-9 years' service in the industry. It is suggested that chronic bronchitis is an occupational hazard of workers who are exposed to kapok dust for long periods. Byssinosis was not found in any of the workers studied.
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