Journal Article

Respiratory abnormalities among male foundry workers in central Taiwan

H.-W. Kuo, C.-L. Chang, W.-M. Liang and B.-C. Chung

in Occupational Medicine

Published on behalf of Society of Occupational Medicine

Volume 49, issue 8, pages 499-505
Published in print November 1999 | ISSN: 0962-7480
Published online November 1999 | e-ISSN: 1471-8405 | DOI:
Respiratory abnormalities among male foundry workers in central Taiwan

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The objectives of this study were to determine the relationship between exposure levels and respiratory abnormalities, to measure FVC and FEV11 changes per year based on work duties and to investigate the prevalence of and factors related to pneumoconiosis. A total of 583 male workers from 50 iron foundries in central Taiwan were investigated. First, workers' respiratory symptoms were categorized using a modified American Thoracic Society (ATS) questionnaire and then were verified by physician's examination. Next, pulmonary function tests were performed including: forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced expiratory flow rate. A chest radiograph was used to diagnose pneumoconiosis according to ILO criteria. Furnace workers were found to have the highest prevalence of chronic phlegm, thoracic disorders and chronic bronchitis. In general, smokers had a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms as compared with non-smokers. Pulmonary function abnormalities and pneumoconiosis were closely linked to smoking and work duration. After adjusting for age, height and smoking there was a significant decrease based on work duration in FVC and FEV1 for furnace and moulding workers compared with after-processing and administrative workers. The overall prevalence of pneumoconiosis was 8.8%, highest among furnace (16.3%) and after-processing workers (11.4%) and lowest among administrative workers (2.5%). Using multiple logistic regression, the risk of developing pneumoconiosis (as compared with the administrative workers) for furnace workers was highest (8.98 times greater risk), followed by after-processing workers (6.77 times greater risk) and moulding workers (5.41 times greater risk). Prolonged exposure to free silica, and smoking habits, can result in respiratory abnormalities among foundry workers.

Keywords: Foundry workers; lung function; male; pneumoconiosis; respiratory symptoms

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Occupational Medicine

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