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Occupational and Environmental Lung Disease |

Effect of Respiratory Protective Devices on Development of Antibody and Occupational Asthma to an Acid Anhydride*

Leslie C. Grammer, MD, FCCP; Kathleen E. Harris, BS; Paul R. Yarnold, PhD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Division of Allergy-Immunology and the Ernest S. Bazley Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center (Dr. Grammer and Ms. Harris), Department of Medicine of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University, Chicago; and the Division of General Internal Medicine (Dr. Yarnold), Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL.

Correspondence to: Leslie C. Grammer, MD, FCCP, Northwestern University Medical School, Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy-Immunology, MC S207, Tarry Building 3–713, 303 E. Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611; e-mail: l-grammer@northwestern.edu



Chest. 2002;121(4):1317-1322. doi:10.1378/chest.121.4.1317
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Study objectives: To determine whether the use of respiratory protective equipment would reduce the incidence of occupational asthma due to exposure to hexahydrophthalic anhydride (HHPA).

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: A facility that makes an epoxy resin product requiring HHPA for its manufacture.

Participants: Sixty-six individuals newly hired at a facility that makes an epoxy resin product requiring HHPA for its manufacture.

Intervention: Employees who wished to use respiratory protective equipment could choose from three types of masks: dust mask, half-face organic vapor respirator, or full-face organic vapor respirator.

Measurements: Workers were evaluated annually for development of positive antibody to HHPA and occupational, immunologic respiratory disease, including occupational asthma.

Results: With use of respiratory protective equipment, the rate of developing an occupational immunologic respiratory disease was reduced from approximately 10 to 2% per year. Occupational asthma developed in only three individuals, and they were all in the higher exposure category. Statistically, one respirator was not superior to the others.

Conclusion: Respiratory protective equipment can reduce the incidence of occupational immunologic respiratory disease, including occupational asthma, in employees exposed to HHPA.


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