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Abaya SW, Bråtveit M, Deressa W, Kumie A, Moen BE, Reduced Lung Function among Workers in Primary Coffee Processing Factories in Ethiopia: A Cross Sectional Study., Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2018;15:2415,10.3390/ijerph15112415
(Plain text: Abaya SW, Bratveit M, Deressa W, Kumie A, Moen BE, Reduced Lung Function among Workers in Primary Coffee Processing Factories in Ethiopia: A Cross Sectional Study., Int J Environ Res Public Health)

Keywords: coffee, ethiopia, fev1, questionnaire, case control, ep, air measurements

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Dust exposure is one of the major risk factors for respiratory health in many workplaces, including coffee factories. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and lung function reduction among workers in Ethiopian primary coffee processing factories, compared to a control group of workers. A total of 115 coffee workers and 110 water bottling workers were involved in this study, from 12 coffee and 3 water bottling factories in Ethiopia, respectively. The chronic respiratory symptoms were assessed using a structured interview, using a standardized questionnaire adopted from the American Thoracic Society (ATS). The lung function tests were performed according to the ATS recommendation for spirometry. The coffee workers had a significantly higher prevalence of coughing, coughing with sputum, breathlessness, work-related shortness of breath, and wheezing compared with the controls. The prevalence ratio of work-related shortness of breath (PR = 3.7, 95% CI: 1.6-8.7) and wheezing (PR = 3.3, 95% CI: 1.3-8.4) was significantly higher for the coffee workers compared to the controls. The coffee workers in the age groups 28-39 years and >40 years, had a significantly lower forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in 1 s compared to the controls in the similar age groups. The findings indicated the need for longitudinal studies on the possible effect of coffee dust on respiratory health of coffee production workers.

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The arithmetic mean (range) of the personal total dust exposure was 17.36 mg/m3 (1.12–81.61 mg/m3) and 0.33 mg/m3 (0.11–1.16 mg/m3) for the coffee workers and controls, respectively. The personal total dust exposure levels among the coffee workers were significantly higher than among the control workers with geometric means (GM) of 12.30 and 0.30 mg/m3, respectively.

This is a carefully designed cross-sectional study of symptoms and lung function in Ethiopian coffee workers, showing symptoms and reduced lung function in exposed workers compared with controls from a bottling plant. It is good to see studies in primary producers, exposure levels were high but we are not told anything about what was being inhaled, what type of coffee bean? Were they green or roasted? Previous studies have mostly shown IgE reactions to green coffee beans, rather than problems from roasted coffee.

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