Shotcrete techniques under compressed air are increasingly applied in the construction of tunnels. Up to now little is known about the influence of shotcrete dusts on the function of the lung. The lung function of 30 miners working with shotcrete under compressed air (before and after one shift) was measured. They carried personal air samplers to assess the total dust exposure. Long term effects were studied on a second group of 29 individuals exposed to shotcrete dusts and compressed air for two years. A significant increase of airway resistance and a significant decrease of some flow-volume parameters were found after one workshift. These changes partially correlate close to the dust exposure. After two years exposure a significant decrease of mean expiratory flow (MEF)50 and MEF25 was found. These results point to damage in the small airways and emphasise the major role of the lung function test--including the flow-volume manoeuvre for the medical examination of the workers. Additionally, they should carry filter masks.
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