Chronic workplace exposure to formaldehyde and solvents at low doses reduced pulmonary function in 280 non-smoker white women working as histology technicians. They were studied during national workshops at four United States cities for four years. Height and age adjusted comparisons of pulmonary function were made with women in a stratified random population sample of Michigan and with a selected subset of the population that was used to model predictive pulmonary equations for function. The major functional change in histology technicians was a steeper decrement in vital capacity and flows from age 20 to 60 by regression analysis than occurred in the modelled Michigan population. Furthermore non-smoking and currently smoking women studied at two sites had significantly lower flows than were found in the sample of Michigan women. There was no consistent effect of an aerosol bronchodilator on flows of women at the four sites. Diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide single breath and alveolar volume were below the comparison group of Michigan women only when tested at Washington DC.
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