Findings are presented from the initial cross sectional phase of a cohort study of employees exposed to flour in bakeries or mills. Of 401 eligible workers in seven sites 344 (86%) were surveyed; symptoms assessed by self completed questionnaire, and sensitisation measured by the response to skin prick tests, were related to intensity of exposure both to total dust and to flour aeroallergen. Among 264 subjects without previous occupational exposure to flour, work related symptoms which started after first employment at the site were related to exposure intensity, especially when exposure was expressed in terms of flour aeroallergen. The relations with eye/nose and skin symptoms were independent of atopic status and cigarette smoking. Positive skin test responses to mixed flour and to alpha amylase were also more frequent with increasing exposure intensity, although this was confounded by atopic status. There was only a weak association between symptoms and specific sensitisation.
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