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Survey of construction workers repeatedly exposed to chlorine over a three to six month period in a pulpmill: II. Follow up of affected workers by questionnaire, spirometry, and assessment of bronchial responsiveness 18 to 24 months after exposure ended.
  1. L Bhérer,
  2. R Cushman,
  3. J P Courteau,
  4. M Quévillon,
  5. G Côté,
  6. J Bourbeau,
  7. J L'Archevêque,
  8. A Cartier,
  9. J L Malo
  1. Outaouais Community Health Department (DSC), Hull, Quebec, Canada.


    OBJECTIVE--The aim was to determine the prevalence of persistent respiratory symptoms and bronchial hyper-responsiveness due to reactive airways dysfunction syndrome in a population of construction workers at moderate to high risk of developing the syndrome, at an interval of 18 to 24 months after multiple exposures to chlorine gas during renovations to a pulp and paper mill. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS--71 of 289 exposed workers (25%) were identified on the basis of an exposure and the onset of respiratory symptoms shortly after this event (moderate to high risk). A standardised respiratory questionnaire was first presented, followed by spirometry and a methacholine inhalation test on those whose questionnaire suggested the persistence of respiratory symptoms. RESULTS--64 of 71 (90%) subjects completed the respiratory questionnaire at the time of the follow up. The questionnaire suggested a persistence of respiratory symptoms in 58 of the 64 workers (91%). Of the 58 subjects, 51 underwent spirometry and assessment of bronchial responsiveness. All of them used bronchodilators as required (not regularly) and four required inhaled anti-inflammatory preparations. Sixteen had bronchial obstruction (forced expiratory volume in one second) (FEV1 < 80% predicted) and 29 showed significant bronchial hyper-responsiveness. CONCLUSION--Of the subjects (n = 71) who were at moderate to high risk of developing reactive airways dysfunction syndrome after being exposed to chlorine and were seen 18 to 24 months after exposure ended, 58 (82%) still had respiratory symptoms, 16 (23%) had evidence of bronchial obstruction, and 29 (41%) had bronchial hyper-responsiveness.

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