Background: Oil spill in sea water represents a huge environmental disaster for marine life and humans in the vicinity. The aim was to investigate the effect of duration of exposure to polluted air environment on lung function in subjects exposed to crude oil spill into sea water.
Material and methods: The present study was conducted under the supervision of Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the period July 2003 - December 2004. This was a comparative study of spirometry in 31 apparently healthy, non smoking, male workers, exposed to crude oil spill environment during the oil cleaning operation. The exposed group was matched with similar number of male, non smoking control subjects. Pulmonary function test was performed by using an electronic spirometer.
Results: Subjects exposed to polluted air for periods longer than 15 days showed a significant reduction in Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), Forced Expiratory Volume in First Second (FEV1), Forced Expiratory Flow in 25-25% (FEF25-75%) and Maximal Voluntary Ventilation (MVV).
Conclusion: Air environment polluted due to crude oil spill into sea water caused impaired lung function and this impairment was associated with dose response effect of duration of exposure to air polluted by crude oil spill into sea water.