Respiratory function and immunological status in workers employed in a latex glove manufacturing plant.

Respiratory function and immunological status in workers employed in a latex glove manufacturing plant.

Respiratory function and immunological status in workers employed in a latex glove manufacturing plant.

Abstract

A study was performed in 17 female workers employed in a latex glove manufacturing plant. The mean age of these workers was 42 years and the mean duration of their employment was 19 years. The employees were primarily nonsmokers or light smokers. The presence of chronic respiratory symptoms and acute work-related symptoms was recorded for these workers. Ventilatory capacity was measured during the morning work shift by recording maximum expiratory flow-volume curves from which forced vital capacity (FVC), 1-second forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and maximum expiratory flow at 50%, and the last 25% of the vital capacity (FEF50, FEF75) were measured. A control group of 17 nonexposed women workers was also studied. The prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms was greater among latex workers than among control confectionary packer workers, varying from 5.9% (vs. 0% in controls) for occupational asthma to 58.8% (vs. 0% in controls) for dyspnea grades 3 or 4. There was also a high prevalence of acute work-related symptoms in this industry, in particular, eye irritation (76.5%), dryness of the nose (70.6%), throat burning (70.6%), dryness of the throat (64.7%), and cough (58.8%). Among exposed workers, measured ventilatory capacity data were significantly lower than among controls, particularly FEF75 (75.1% +/- 10.5%). One of the 17 studied workers (5.9%) had a positive skin reaction to latex and had symptoms compatible with occupational asthma. Our data suggest that in addition to occupational asthma, the manufacture of latex gloves is associated with frequent, nonspecific respiratory findings.

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