This paper reports a longitudinal study carried out between 1977 and 1989 to determine whether the long-term rate of change in the forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) is influenced by exposure to the pot room environment of an aluminum smelter. Workers with diagnosed asthma were excluded from the analysis. The study population consisted of 393 pot room workers, with rate of change in FEV1 used to assess any impairment in airway function. Post-shift urinary fluoride levels and length of service were used to measure exposure. Meter allowing for age, smoking behavior, and a standardized measure of FEV1, the rate of change in FEV1 was found to be significantly greater for those workers who had worked shorter times in the potroom. Possible explanations for this finding include unrecognized asthma, a healthy-worker effect, and an exposure effect that occurs early in a worker’s experience in the pot room; these explanations are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Apart from the risk, of occupational asthma, there does not appear to be any long-term effect on the rate of decline in FEV1 associated with exposure to the potroom environment in workers who remain at work longer than 40 months.
*Article online at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1179/oeh.19184.108.40.206
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