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Byssinosis and Chronic Bronchitis Among Cotton Textile Workers

JAMES A. MERCHANT, M.D.; KAYE H. KILBURN, M.D.; WILLIAM M. O'FALLON, Ph.D.; JOHN D. HAMILTON, M.D.; and JOHN C. LUMSDEN, B.Ch.E.
[+] Article and Author Information

Supported in part by research grant HL 13587 and training grant HE 05604, National Heart and Lung Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., and grant EHS 00124, National Institute of Environmental Health Science.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to James A. Merchant, M.D., Division of Environmental Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C. 27706.


Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina


Ann Intern Med. 1972;76(3):423-433. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-76-3-423
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A survey of a modern cotton-synthetic blend mill was conducted to determine the prevalence and distribution of byssinosis, the effects of smoking, aging, and cotton-dust exposure on the frequency and severity of byssinosis, chronic bronchitis, and dyspnea (defined by index ratings), and whether total-dust samples would indicate byssinosis risk. Twenty percent of those working in preparation areas, 2% of those in yarn processing areas, and 6% of all employees were diagnosed as byssinotic. Among men, the byssinosis index increased with smoking and the bronchitis index increased with smoking plus dust exposure. Byssinotic workers were found to have more chronic bronchitis and dyspnea than matched control workers. It is concluded that byssinosis and chronic bronchitis are both influenced by cotton-dust exposure and cigarette smoking. Total-dust samples, in this plant, gave no indication of byssinosis risk.

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