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Pulmonary Function Impairment From Exposure to Mixed Organic Solvents in Male Shipyard Painters

Hwang, Sungho, PhD; Lee, Kyung Jong, PhD; Park, Jae Bum, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: December 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 12 - p 1057–1062
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001429

Objectives: This study aimed to examine the effects of chronic exposure to organic solvents on lung function in a shipyard painters.

Methods: Male workers in the shipyard painting department were selected as the organic solvents exposure group. Exposure was classified according to the type of work usually performed, and the cumulative exposure index was obtained using the results of biological monitoring. These were then used to divide the exposure group into low-exposure and high-exposure groups, and the dose–response relationships were examined for decreased lung function. For ventilation indices, we obtained the forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1), the FEV1/FVC ratio, and the maximal mid-expiratory flow (MMF) from the forced expiratory flow-volume curve and also calculated these as percentages of the predicted values.

Results: FVC and FEV1 showed no significant differences among the control, and low-exposure and high-exposure groups, but FEV1 as a percentage of its predicted value (%FEV1) decreased with increasing exposure at 90.0%, 90.9%, and 90.0% in the control, low-exposure, and high-exposure groups, respectively. MMF% predicted also decreased significantly at 98.5%, 90.1%, and 88.4% in the control, low-exposure, and high-exposure group, respectively, indicating that workers exposed to organic solvents showed obstructive respiratory disease.

Conclusion: Exposure to organic solvents is associated with obstructive pulmonary dysfunction rather than restrictive pulmonary dysfunction.

National Cancer Control Institute, National Cancer Center, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea (Dr Hwang); Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ajou University, School of Medicine, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon, South Korea (Drs Lee, Park).

Address correspondence to: Jae Bum Park, PhD, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ajou University, School of Medicine, 164, Worldcup-ro, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon 16499, South Korea (

This research was supported by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning (2018R1C1A1A02037363).

Hwang, Lee, and Park have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine