Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Never-Smoking Welding Worker

*Jordan Minov,1 Jovanka Karadzinska-Bislimovska,1 Engin Tutkun,2 Kristin Vasilevska,3 Snezana Risteska-Kuc,1 Saso Stoleski,1 Dragan Mijakoski1

1. Institute for Occupational Health of Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
2. Ankara Occupational Diseases Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
3. Institute for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
*Correspondence to minovj@hotmail.com

Disclosure: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
Received: 17.12.15 Accepted: 16.03.16
Citation: EMJ. 2016;1[2]:65-70.

Abstract

Introduction: Results from several studies indicate that workplace exposure to welding fumes is associated with increased frequency of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in exposed workers.
Objective: To assess the prevalence and characteristics of COPD in never-smoking welders.
Methods: A cross-sectional study including 53 never-smoking male welders (aged 35–60 years) was performed, and an equal number of never-smoking male office workers were studied as a control. Evaluation of examined subjects consisted of the completion of a questionnaire, baseline spirometry, and bronchodilator reversibility testing.
Results: We found a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms in welders, with significant differences in cough and phlegm. The majority of the chronic respiratory symptoms in welders were work-related. The mean values of all measured spirometric parameters registered with both pre and post-bronchodilator spirometry in welders were significantly lower than in office workers. The prevalence of COPD was significantly higher in welders than in office workers (15.1% versus 3.8%, p=0.041). COPD in both welders and office workers was similar in those aged <45 years.
Conclusion: Our findings support data about the relationship between workplace exposure to welding fumes and persistent airflow limitation.

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