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Exposure to cotton dust in industrial environments causes inflammation in the airways of the exposed workers. This may manifest as respiratory complaints and changes in the respiratory functions after work shift and in the baseline of their ventilatory functions. The study aimed to investigate the effect of occupational exposure to cotton dust on respiratory symptoms, ventilatory functions and pro-inflammatory cytokine levels (tumor necrosis factor α, interleukin 6 and interleukin 1β). The study was conducted on 63 textile workers and 65 nonexposed subjects. Both groups were matched for age, socioeconomic status and smoking habit. The respirable dust measured in the workplace did not exceed the permissible values of the Egyptian law 1994. The bacterial counts detected were within the occupational exposure limits of the industrial settings. The results revealed that the percentage of respiratory symptoms was higher in textile workers. Respiratory complaints were chronic cough (33.2%), chronic bronchitis (39.7%) and dyspnea (23.8%) in textile workers compared to (6.2%, 6.2% and 1.5%), respectively, in controls. There was a marked reduction in the ventilatory functions (forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in 1 s) in the textile workers compared to the controls. The additive effect of smoking on the ventilatory functions was not apparent. The ventilatory functions of the workers were significantly positively correlated with the duration of exposure. The cytokines were insignificantly higher in the textile workers compared to their controls. The textile workers with respiratory complaints showed significant decline in ventilatory functions and elevation in the cytokine levels compared to the nonsymtomatizing workers with significant difference in interleukin 1β and interleukin 6. In conclusion, the results supported the fact that exposure to cotton dust deteriorates ventilatory functions and elevates proinflammatory cytokine levels. Analysis of the release of cytokines can be used to evaluate the immune responses to organic dust-induced airway inflammation.


Safia Beshir, Heba Mahdy-Abdallah, Amal Saad-Hussein. Ventilatory functions in cotton textile workers and the role of some inflammatory cytokines. Toxicology and industrial health. 2013 Mar;29(2):114-20

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PMID: 22082822

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