Airway obstruction in boilermakers exposed to fuel oil ash. A prospective investigation

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1995 Nov;152(5 Pt 1):1478-84. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.152.5.7582280.


We prospectively investigated the lower airway response in boilermakers overhauling an oil-powered boiler. We studied 26 male boilermakers with a mean age (SD) of 43.3 (8.6) yr. Pre-exposure spirometry and methacholine challenge tests were performed before beginning the boiler overhaul; postexposure tests were performed after approximately 4 wk of work on the boiler. Exposure to particulates with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 microns and smaller (PM10) and respirable vanadium dust were estimated using daily work diaries and a personal sampling device for respirable particles. Using these estimates, we calculated average and peak exposure between pre- and postexposure tests for each subject. The average PM10 concentration ranged from 1.44 to 6.69 mg/m3, with a mean (SD) of 3.22 (1.42) mg/m3; the average vanadium concentration ranged from 2.2 to 31.3, with a mean (SD) of 12.2 (9.1) micrograms/m3. The mean postexposure fall in FEV1 was 140 +/- 160 ml (p < 0.01); 24 of 26 subjects had a drop in FEV1. For each subject, the adjusted change in FEV1 (delta FEV1.adj) was calculated by dividing the change in FEV1 by the average of the pre- and postexposure FEV1 values. The delta FEV1.adj was regressed, controlling age and current smoking status, on average and peak exposure to both PM10 and vanadium. There was a dose-response relationship between average and peak PM10 exposure and delta FEV1.adj: beta = -0.91% per mg/m3, p = 0.08 and beta = -1.03% per mg/m3, p = 0.03, respectively. However, there was no relationship between delta FEV1.adj and respirable vanadium dust concentration. Furthermore, there was no postexposure change in nonspecific airway responsiveness. In summary, we found a significant fall in FEV1 and a dose-response relationship between delta FEV1.adj and average and peak PM10 exposure.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis
  • Airway Obstruction / chemically induced*
  • Airway Obstruction / diagnosis
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Engineering / statistics & numerical data
  • Fuel Oils / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Methacholine Chloride
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spirometry / statistics & numerical data
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vanadium Compounds / adverse effects
  • Vanadium Compounds / analysis


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Fuel Oils
  • Vanadium Compounds
  • Methacholine Chloride