Respiratory disease in a textile factory in Nicaragua

Am J Ind Med. 1991;20(2):195-208. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700200206.


This is the first epidemiologic study conducted in a textile mill in Nicaragua using techniques and diagnostic criteria similar to those used in the United States and England. The prevalence of byssinosis and nonspecific respiratory symptoms were studied in 194 workers in a cotton mill in Managua. Limited environmental sampling, performed using a vertical elutriator in yarn preparation and weaving areas, indicated that exposures were similar to those reported in other parts of the developing world. A modified translated version of the Medical Research Council respiratory questionnaire was administered. Pulmonary function tests were performed before and after the Monday workshift to measure across-shift change in ventilatory function. The prevalence of byssinosis was 5.9% and all the cases occurred among exposed women. Nonspecific respiratory symptoms were also more prevalent among exposed workers. After adjusting for age, gender, smoking habit, and work tenure, the exposure odds ratios for usual cough and usual phlegm were 3.3 and 2.2, respectively. The association between exposure and across-shift decrement in FEV1 was not significant. Byssinotic workers, however, had greater decrements in FEV1% than those without byssinosis: 5.5% versus 1.8%. A consistent gender effect was observed in which both exposed and unexposed women were found to have greater across-shift decrements in FEV1 than men. The gender difference existed among long-term workers as well as workers who had been employed less than 2 years. Results are related to cotton dust exposure, as has been documented elsewhere. The poorer health status of the women in this study population deserves follow-up.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Byssinosis / epidemiology*
  • Byssinosis / physiopathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Dust / analysis
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicaragua / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Mechanics
  • Sex Factors
  • Textiles*


  • Dust