Work-related respiratory symptoms and ventilatory disorders among employees of a cement industry in Shiraz, Iran

J Occup Health. 2007 Jul;49(4):273-8. doi: 10.1539/joh.49.273.


Although the main hazard in cement processing is dust and respiratory tract disorders are the most important group of occupational diseases in this industry, evidence for associations between exposure to cement dust and either respiratory symptoms or functional impairment has not been conclusive. This study was, therefore, undertaken to more thoroughly examine the effects of occupational exposure to cement dust on the respiratory system. The study population consisted of a group of 88, randomly selected, male workers with current exposure to cement dust and 80 healthy male office workers without present or past history of exposure to dust that served as the referent group. Subjects were interviewed and were given respiratory symptom questionnaires to answer. They also underwent chest X-ray and lung function tests. Additionally, personal dust monitoring for airborne inhalable and respirable dust was carried out at nine different worksites. Moreover, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) techniques were performed to determine the silica phases and the SiO2 contents of the dust samples. Levels of exposures to inhalable and respirable cement dust were estimated to be 53.4+/-42.6 and 26+/-14.2 mg/m3, respectively (Mean+/-SD). Statistical analysis of the data revealed that symptoms like regular cough, phlegm, wheezing and shortness of breath were significantly (p<0.05) more prevalent among exposed workers. Similarly, chest radiographs of exposed workers showed various degrees of abnormalities including emphysematous changes, old calcified granulomas, emphysematous changes associated with inflammatory processes, evidence of chronic inflammatory processes, focusal calcification of the lungs and infiltrative changes. However, no significant changes were noted in the radiographs of the referent group. Furthermore, exposed workers compared to their referent counterparts showed significant reductions in the parameters of lung function. In conclusions, our data provide corroborative evidence further substantiating the contention that exposure to cement dust is associated with respiratory symptoms and functional impairments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Construction Materials*
  • Dust*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust