Occupational Asthma Reference

Nakadate T, Yamano Y, Yamauchi T, Okubo S, Nagashima D, Assessing the chronic respiratory health risk associated with inhalation exposure to powdered toner for printing in actual working conditions: a cohort study on occupationally exposed workers over 10 years, BMJ Open, 2018;8:e022049,http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022049

Keywords: Japan, photocopier toner, ep, CXR, FEV1

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Abstract

Background
Little epidemiological evidence exists regarding the chronic respiratory effects of inhaled powdered toner exposure in humans, although several case reports have suggested the existence of lung disorders that might be related to exposure to toner dust.

Objective W
e aimed to estimate the chronic health risk to humans associated with routine toner dust exposure in copier industry workers under current actual work conditions.

Design
A prospective observational cohort study of occupational population.

Methods
Changes in chest radiogram, spirometry measurements and serum and urine biomarkers of biomedical responses to extrinsic stress, as well as subjective symptoms were longitudinally observed for up to 10 years in Japanese copier industry workers responsible for the manufacturing, maintenance or recycling of powdered toner or toner-using machines. A total of 694 subjects who did not change their work category during the follow-up and were free from chronic respiratory diseases at the baseline survey provided reliable results on at least three survey occasions during 3 years or more of follow-up.

Results
Typical fibrosis findings associated with pneumoconiosis was not observed on chest radiograms. No significant differences associated with toner exposure were noted in the frequency of new incidence of either non-specific findings on chest radiogram or serum fibrosis biomarkers (sialylated carbohydrate antigen KL-6 and surfactant protein D). However, the exposed subjects tended to show increases in the frequency of respiratory symptoms and reduced spirometry results during the follow-up compared with the control group, although significant differences were only seen in chronic cough.

Conclusions
Under the current reasonably controlled work environmental conditions, lung fibrotic changes caused by inhaled dust exposure, including powdered toner, appear to be relatively uncommon; however, non-specific temporal irritation causing subjective symptoms and inflammatory responses might exist.

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Comments

This is a longitudinal study of manufacturers and services of printing toners. The study is set up to look for interstitial disease, but is too short (mean 7.4 years) to show anything but the most gross pneumoconiosis. The hygiene measurements show that the servicers have higher exposures to toner dust than the manufacturers, and have more breathlessness and abnormal spirometry. Unfortunately there is no description of the content of the toner dust, asthmatic responses may account for some of the disease. The data on FEV1 decline is confounded by adjusting for age (which is likely to be highly correlated with cumulative exposure).
11/5/2018

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