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Respiratory effects of borax dust.
  1. D H Garabrant,
  2. L Bernstein,
  3. J M Peters,
  4. T J Smith,
  5. W E Wright


    The relation of respiratory symptoms, pulmonary function, and abnormalities of chest radiographs to estimated exposures of borax dust has been investigated in a cross sectional study of 629 actively employed borax workers. Ninety three per cent of the eligible workers participated in the study and exposures ranged from 1.1 mg/m3 to 14.6 mg/m3. Symptoms of acute respiratory irritation such as dryness of the mouth, nose, or throat, dry cough, nose bleeds, sore throat, productive cough, shortness of breath, and chest tightness were related to exposures of 4.0 mg/m3 or more, and were infrequent at exposures of 1.1 mg/m3. Symptoms of persistent respiratory irritation meeting the definition of chronic simple bronchitis were related to exposure among non-smokers. Decrements in the FEV1 as a percentage of predicted were seen among smokers who had heavy cumulative borax exposures (greater than or equal to 80 mg/m3 years) but were not seen among less exposed smokers or among non-smokers. Radiographic abnormalities were uncommon and were not related to dust exposure. Borax dust appears to act as a simple respiratory irritant and perhaps causes small changes in the FEV1 among smokers who are heavily exposed.

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