This study reported that respiratory symptoms consistent with bronchial responsiveness were significantly positively associated with cumulative dust exposure. A significant positive association was also reported between a physician’s diagnosis of bronchitis and dust exposure. Their study also showed a significant negative association between FEV1 and the ratio of FEV1/FVC and cumulative dust exposure.
There is substantial evidence that workers handling grain acquire allergic respiratory symptoms. The mechanism by which these symptoms occur is not yet well understood, but microbiological contaminants are likely to be a significant contributing factor. It has been reported that there is a wide range and large numbers of fungi and bacteria to which workers handling grain in the United Kingdom are exposed. More info
However, in developing countries, exposure to grain, cotton, tobacco, and tea dusts is still a serious problem. The World Health Organization reported that in developing countries, a large number of workers are employed in industries processing agricultural products, which has made the problem of exposure to vegetable dusts more serious in these countries. In these countries, it is important to implement surveillance programs for workers who are exposed to grain dust or other dusts to study the health of workers working n hazardous industries and investigate their respiratory health longitudinally as grain dust preventative measure are being implemented.
Our study showed that control and reduction of grain dust appears critical to preventing chronic respiratory symptoms among grain elevator workers. The model used in the Grain Dust Medical Surveillance Program to reduce/control grain dust, in which grain industry employers, unions, researchers, physicians, and government policy makers cooperated, appears to have worked effectively. We previously observed “positive” changes in the grain industry work environment: a decrease in dust concentrations, improvement in the efficiency of ventilation systems, reduction in respiratory symptoms, and reduction in the annual decline of lung function measurements among these workers. In this analysis, we found that the prevalence of respiratory symptoms decreased after dust control measures were implemented.
Based on the Grain Dust Medical Surveillance Program, the maximum allowable grain dust has been reduced significantly in Canadian grain indus-tries. Although the data were collected during from 1978 to 1993, the results of this report could lead to future research in developing countries on the subject of educational programs for employees in the grain industries or in other industries that pose occupational/environmental health hazards, enforcing mask requirements, and reducing the maximum allowable dust in grain industries.