Objectives: This study was conducted to determine the distribution and severity of byssinosis and other respiratory problems in the different operation sections in a textile mill industry in Asaba.
Patients and methods: This is a cross-sectional and analytic study in which workers directly exposed to cotton dust are compared with those not directly exposed to cotton dust at one point in time.
Results: A total of 735 workers were interviewed and 437 workers had respiratory examinations carried out on them. Byssinosis was diagnosed in 8 out of 405 workers (prevalence of 1.98%) who were not directly exposed to cotton dust, and 21 out of 330 workers (prevalence of 6.36%) who were directly exposed to cotton dust. The difference was found to be statistically significant (chi2 =9.25; df=1; 0.01<p<0.001). The spinning department had the highest prevalence of 11.5%. The prevalence of respiratory abnormalities which did not necessarily meet the criteria for a diagnosis of byssinosis was 4.9% for persistent cough and persistent phlegm; 8.0% for dyspnoea grade 2+; 3.3% for dyspnoea grade 4 and 2.59% for dyspnoea grade 5. Smoking was not found to be associated with the disease as none of the byssinotics were current smokers
Conclusion: Byssinosis and other respiratory problems were found to be more prevalent in sections of the textile mill industry that were directly exposed to cotton dust. These findings form a basis for making suitable recommendations for the prevention of byssinosis and respiratory diseases in textile mills in Nigeria.