Background: In India, 20 million workers are involved in the manufacturing of textiles. However, there are few epidemiological studies from India that have assessed the magnitude or the risk factors associated with byssinosis. In Pondicherry, textile mills have been in existence for over a century. This case-control study aimed to find the factors associated with the development of byssinosis in textile workers.
Methods: The sample consisted of 761 men above the age of 30 years who had worked for at least 10 years in a textile factory. All the respondents were interviewed by a pretested questionnaire to gather information regarding the symptoms of byssinosis, certain personal characteristics and occupational history. Byssinosis was identified using the classification proposed by the World Health Organization. Two age-matched controls were selected for each case.
Results: Univariate analysis of the factors for symptomatic byssinosis showed that dusty worksites, heavy smoking and duration of service > or = 30 years were significant. Logistic regression analysis showed that working in the spinning (odds ratio 6.1) and weaving sections (odds ratio 1.9), heavy smoking (odds ratio 3.9) and > or = 30 years of service (odds ratio 2.0) were independent significant risk factors.
Conclusion: Efforts to reduce dust levels in the working environment and to discourage smoking among textile workers need to be strengthened to minimize the risk of developing byssinosis.