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Lung function changes in coke oven workers during 12 years of follow up


Aims: To investigate the effect of exposure to coke oven emissions on the lung function of coke oven workers.

Methods: The study population, followed from 1978 and 1990, was 580 male workers with at least two sets of lung function measurements (FVC, FEV1, FEV1/FVC, and FEF25–75%). An annual rate of change (time slope) for age and height adjusted lung function index was estimated for each subject. This “time slope” was then treated as the response variable in a weighted multiple regression analysis with selected predictors.

Results: For all 580 subjects, each year of working in the “operation” group (the most exposed) was found to increase the FVC decline by around 0.7 ml/year (95% CI 0.1 to 1.3 ml/year). After the exclusion of 111 subjects without detailed work history, the above finding was confirmed and each year of exposure in “operation” was also found to increase the FEV1 decline by around 0.8 ml/year (95% CI 0.1 to 1.4 ml/year).

Conclusions: These findings are consistent with the results of previous cross-sectional studies. Work duration in the most exposed position in the coke ovens was associated with increased annual decline for FVC and FEV1. The estimated effect of one year of work exposure in “operation” is equivalent, in terms of the reduction in lung function, to an estimated 2.1 pack-years of smoking for FVC and 1.2 pack-years of smoking for FEV1.

  • lung function
  • coke oven workers
  • longitudinal study

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