Dust exposure is associated with increased lung function loss among workers in the Norwegian silicon carbide industry

Occup Environ Med. 2013 Nov;70(11):803-9. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2012-101068. Epub 2013 Jul 12.


Objectives: To investigate the relationship between dust exposure and annual change in lung function among employees in Norwegian silicon carbide (SiC) plants using a quantitative job exposure matrix (JEM) regarding total dust.

Methods: All employees, 20-55 years of age by inclusion (n=456), were examined annually for up to 5 years (1499 examinations). Spirometry was performed at each examination, and a questionnaire encompassing questions of respiratory symptoms, smoking status, job and smoking history, and present job held was completed. A JEM was constructed based on 1970 personal total dust exposure measurements collected during the study period. The association between lung function and total dust exposure was investigated using linear mixed models.

Results: The annual change in forced expiratory volume (FEV) in one second per squared height, FEV1/height(2), per mg/m(3) increase in dust exposure was -2.3 (95% CI -3.8 to -0.79) (mL/m(2))×year(-1). In an employee of average height (1.79 m) and exposure (1.4 mg/m(3)) the estimated contribution to the annual change in FEV1 associated with dust was 10.4 mL/year. The annual change in FEV1/height(2) in current, compared with non-smokers was -1.9 (-7.2 to 3.4) (mL/m(2))×year(-1). The estimated overall annual decline in FEV1 among current and non-smokers in the highest exposed group was -91.2 (-124.3 to -58.1) (mL/m(2))×year(-1) and -49.0 (-80.2 to -17.8) (mL/m(2))×year(-1), respectively.

Conclusions: Dust exposure, expressed by a quantitative JEM, was found to be associated with an increased yearly decline in FEV1 in employees of Norwegian SiC plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Compounds, Inorganic / adverse effects*
  • Dust
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects*
  • Particulate Matter / chemistry
  • Silicon / adverse effects*
  • Silicon Compounds / adverse effects*
  • Smoking
  • Spirometry
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Carbon Compounds, Inorganic
  • Dust
  • Particulate Matter
  • Silicon Compounds
  • silicon carbide
  • Silicon