Background: While the prevalence of byssinosis is decreasing in industrialized countries and persists at high levels in developing countries, this prevalence is remaining constant in Turkey.
Objective: In order to determine the effects of past cotton dust exposure on the respiratory tract, a total of 223 persons working in a cotton mill were included in this study.
Methods: A questionnaire was used to inquire about respiratory symptoms. Participants underwent several spirometric measurements, which were performed on the 1st, 3rd and 5th day of the working week. Cotton dust measurements were performed in different divisions of the factory.
Results: The most common respiratory symptom was chest tightness (20.3%). The prevalence of byssinosis was 14.2% in cotton-processing workers. Among these cases, 28.6% had symptoms on the 1st day of the week, and 71.4% had symptoms on all days of the week. An acute effect was seen in 53.6% of the workers with byssinosis. Mean respirable dust levels were between 0.095 and 0.413 mg/m(3).
Conclusions: In spite of technological improvements, respirable dust concentrations are still above the permissible limits, and thus the risk of byssinosis remains. Workers in the cotton industry where obsolete technology is used and standardized protection measures are not applied should be followed for byssinosis.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel