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See detailBronchial Responsiveness in Active Steelworkers
Corhay, Jean-Louis ULg; Bury, Thierry ULg; Louis, Renaud ULg et al

in European Respiratory Journal (1998), 11(2), 272-7

Coke-oven workers are exposed to dust and irritant gases. Therefore they are at risk of developing lung diseases including chronic bronchitis. Nonspecific bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) has been ... [more ▼]

Coke-oven workers are exposed to dust and irritant gases. Therefore they are at risk of developing lung diseases including chronic bronchitis. Nonspecific bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) has been advocated as a potential risk factor predisposing to the development of chronic bronchitis. In a previous study, we showed that prevalence of BHR was higher in retired coke-oven workers than in retired blast furnace workers. The present study was carried out to determine the prevalence of BHR in active steelworkers. Thus, 137 coke-oven workers and 150 blast furnace workers underwent clinical examination, a standardized questionnaire for the study of respiratory symptoms, pulmonary function testing and methacholine aerosol challenge. The study demonstrates a higher prevalence and degree of BHR [provocative concentration of methacholine causing a 20% fall in forced expiratory volume in one second (PC20) < or = 8 mg x mL(-1)] in coke-oven workers than in blast furnace workers (31.4 versus 6.7%; p<0.001). Moreover, the frequency of respiratory symptoms and basal bronchial obstruction were greater among coke-oven workers with BHR in nonresponders. The basal maximum expiratory flow from 25-75% of forced vital capacity and the respiratory symptoms were correlated with bronchial responsiveness. The lack of correlation observed between BHR and the intensity of smoking or years spent in coke-oven environment may be explained by the high proportion of smokers, the worker turnover in the steel plant, and the "healthy worker effect". In conclusion, the higher prevalence and degree of bronchial hyperresponsiveness in coke-oven workers suggests that coke-oven pollutants are more intense irritants than those that escape from blast furnaces. [less ▲]

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