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Decline in spirometric variables in grain workers from start of employment: differential effect of duration of follow up.
  1. J E Zejda,
  2. P Pahwa,
  3. J A Dosman
  1. Centre for Agricultural Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


    Prospective study of 164 young men from the start of employment in grain elevators showed that of those seen at the initial evaluation of respiratory state only 30% were available for a complete four year follow up. The drop out of subjects could represent a health related selection leading to the underestimation of respiratory effects of exposure to grain dust as assessed in the survivor group. This hypothesis was examined by comparisons of longitudinal changes in lung function in four groups defined by the duration of follow up involving the initial examination and periodic evaluations after one, two, and four years of work. Sixty four men were tested only on the initial examination (group I), 18 underwent two (group II), 31 underwent three (group III), and 51 (group IV) all four examinations. The groups had similar mean ages (range: 19.4-20.1 years), mean duration of previous exposure to grain dust (range: 8-13 weeks), smoking habits, lung function, and prevalences of respiratory symptoms evaluated on the initial occasion. The average decline in lung function over the first year was associated with duration of follow up. The annual decline in FVC (ml) was 58 in group II, 41 in group III and -55 (increase) in group IV; the decline in FEV1 (ml) was 224, 130, and 70 respectively. The differences for the annual declines of FEV1, FEF25-759 Vmax509 and Vmax25 were significant between groups II and IV, and the FEF25-759 Vmax509 and Vmax25 differed significantly between groups II and III. The results show that the restriction of analysis to the survivors may underestimate the relation between work and respiratory impairment.

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