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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
Original Articles

Respiratory Symptoms and Dust Exposure Among Male Workers in Small-Scale Wood Industries in Tanzania

Rongo, Larama M. B. MSc; Besselink, Anoek MSc; Douwes, Jeroen PhD; Barten, Françoise PhD; Msamanga, Gernard I. ScD; Dolmans, Wil M.V. PhD; Demers, Paul A. PhD; Heederik, Dick PhD

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Abstract

Few studies have assessed respiratory symptoms and dust exposure levels in small-scale wood industry workers in Africa. We interviewed 546 workers exposed to wood dust and 565 control subjects using a respiratory health questionnaire. Inhalable dust measurements were collected for 106 workers. The dust exposure was high, and job title-based geometric mean exposure levels ranged from 2.9 to 22.8 mg/m3. Prevalence of respiratory symptoms in the previous 12 months was significantly higher in the exposed group compared with the nonexposed office workers. Allergy and sensitivity symptoms were reported regularly in the exposed group with Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) varying from 2.4 (95% CI = 1.8–3.1) for low-and 2.7 (1.8–4.0) for high-exposure groups compared with controls. We conclude that working in the small-scale wood industry in Tanzania is associated with an increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms.

©2002The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

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