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Original Research

Lung function abnormalities in flour mill workers using spirometry

Cheryl Ann Melo, Satyanarayana G Konda, Tanvi Shah, Yogesh Padwale.


Background: Few studies have been carried out to analyze the impact of flour dust on the lung function of flour mill workers.

Objective: To assess the lung function of flour mill workers and to study the lung function abnormalities using spirometry.

Materials and Methods: An analytical case–control study was carried out on 40 flour mill workers and 40 matched controls. Data were collected using questionnaires, and lung function was assessed using an electronic spirometer. In those showing decreased lung function, postbronchodilator testing was performed. The results were statistically evaluated.

Result: Significant decrease in forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume measured at the first second (FEV1), forced expiratory flow (FEF) (25%–75%), and peak expiratory flow (PEF) was noted in 25% subjects compared to 5% controls, which is five times more than that in the controls. Postbronchodilator testing showed a significant increase in FVC, FEV1, and FEF (25%–75%). Of the 25% subjects having decreased lung function, 60% had obstructive and 40% had restrictive airway disorder. Of the 60% having obstructive abnormalities, 83.33% had reversible and 16.67% had irreversible airway obstruction.

Conclusion: We conclude that wheat flour mill workers are at an increased risk of developing lung function abnormalities, reversible airflow obstruction being the most common. The workers should be educated about the hazards of flour dust, advised to use personal protection, advised to make changes in engineering and ventilation at the workplace, and motivated to undergo periodic examination. These measures can go a long way in preventing irreversible airflow obstruction.

Key words: FEV1, flour mill, FVC, obstructive, restrictive, spirometry

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