OBJECTIVE--To determine the prevalence of work related symptoms among radiographers compared with a control group of physiotherapists. METHOD--A postal questionnaire was used to collect information from radiographers and physiotherapists who registered in the United Kingdom during 1985-9. RESULTS--Satisfactory questionnaires were returned by 2354 (65%) of the radiographers and 3048 (69%) of the physiotherapists. There was a clear excess of work related symptoms among the radiographers. In particular, they were more likely to complain of symptoms that were worse at work, mouth soreness, sore, itchy, or runny eyes, persistent blocked nose, persistent itchy nose or sneezing, sore throat, headache, and of lower respiratory tract symptoms, which were also worse on workdays. These symptoms were associated particularly with the use of automatic processing machines. 235 radiographers gave a history of wheeze or chest tightness that had been worse at work or on days when at work. CONCLUSIONS--Work related symptoms suggesting irritation of the eyes and upper airways were more common in radiographers than controls, and may be related to exposure to x ray film processing chemicals. Men and women who reported work related wheeze or chest tightness will be followed up in more detail to assess the prevalence of occupational asthma in the cohort.
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