Occupational Asthma Reference

GodnicCvar J, Zuskin E, Mustajbegovic J, Schachter EN, Kanceljak B, Macan J, Ilic Z, Ebling Z, Respiratory and immunological findings in brewery workers, Am J Industr Med, 1999;35:68-75,

Keywords: barley, yeast, IgE, occupational asthma, smoking, prick test, hops, brewer

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Jasminka Godnic-Cvar, Vienna Jasminka Godnic-Cvar

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BACKGROUND: Occupational exposure of brewery workers to organic dusts such as hops, barley, and brewery yeast has the potential to change respiratory function and immunological status.

METHODS: Ninety-seven male workers employed in a brewery plant were studied. The mean age of the workers in this plant was 40 years, the mean duration of their employment was 16 years. In addition, a group of 76 unexposed workers was studied as a control. Respiratory symptoms were recorded. Lung function was measured by recording maximum expiratory flow-volume (MEFV) curves. Immunological testing was performed on all brewery workers and some control volunteers using skin prick testing with hops, barley, and yeast antigens as well as other nonoccupational allergens, and by determining total serum IgE levels.

RESULTS: There was a significantly higher prevalence of most of the chronic respiratory symptoms in brewery workers compared to controls (P < 0.01). Occupational asthma, however, was recorded in only 2 (2.1%) of the brewery workers. Logistic regression analysis showed that smoking was the major studied factor responsible for the high prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms in workers. A large number of brewery workers complained of acute symptoms that developed during the work shift. Lung function tests were decreased compared to predicted. Multivariate analysis of these respiratory function parameters suggested the importance of workplace exposure in explaining lung function abnormalities. Significantly higher prevalences of positive skin prick tests were recorded in 37 brewery workers for molds, hops, and barley than in controls. Increased serum levels of total IgE were documented in 34/97 (45.1%) brewery workers and in 1/76 (2.7%) of the control workers (P < 0.01). However, workers with positive skin prick tests had prevalences of chronic respiratory symptoms and lung function changes similar to those of workers with negative skin prick tests.

CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that both smoking and dust exposure in the brewery industry may be responsible for the development of respiratory impairment and immunological reactions

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