Tunnel workers’ lungs at risk from dust

Long-term exposure to dust increases the decline in lung function suffered
by tunnel workers, research has found.

Researchers at the National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo,
Norway, studied tunnel workers between 1991 and 1999.

The workers also answered a questionnaire on respiratory symptoms and
smoking habits and underwent spirometry and chest X-rays.

Researchers found that cumulative exposures to respirable dust and quartz
were the most important risk factors in limiting airflow in underground heavy
construction workers.

Cumulative exposure to respirable dust was the most important risk factor
for the development of respiratory symptoms, it found.

"The finding of accelerated decline in lung function in tunnel workers
suggests that better control of exposures is needed," the study, published
in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, concluded.

Occup Environ Med 2001; 58: 663-669

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