To find out whether workplace exposure to coal mine dust contributes to the development of chronic bronchitis, COPD, allergic airway diseases and atopy. Second purpose was to evaluate whether these diseases are more frequent in ever smoking miners than in non-smoking miners. Latest epidemiological studies in Czech Republic found, that the prevalence of both asthma and COPD is 8%, and atopy 40%.
In the cross-sectional study spirometry and examination by a physician was performed. Allergic diseases in personal history (mucosal and cutaneous) were searched and atopy (presence of specific IgE to common inhalation allergens in blood by Phadiatop) was studied in 702 coal miners (mean age 49, SD 16). Among them 445 were ever smokers (mean age 48,SD 16), and 257 never smokers (mean age 51, SD 17). Subjects were divided into cohorts according to the age and length of exposure; statistical analysis was performed by x-square testing using contingency tables.
The percentages of atopy, allergic diseases and chronic bronchitis in miners with exposure to coal dust lasting for 3–15 years and 16–31 years were 29%, 23% and 20%, and 18%, 22% and 46%, respectively. The prevalence of atopy was significantly higher in the group of miners (mean age 40, SD 13) with shorter exposure (p = 0.0007). The prevalence of chronic bronchitis was significantly higher in the group of miners exposed to coal dust more than 15 years and mean age 58,SD 10 (p = 0.0000). No difference between smokers and non-smokers was found. Statistical analysis has shown no influence of either coalmine dust or of smoking status on the prevalence of atopy, rhinitis and asthma.
The longer exposure to coal dust was associated with a higher prevalence of chronic bronchitis and COPD, independently of smoking. However, it was not a risk factor for atopy and respiratory allergic disorders.
The lifetime deposition of coal dust with presence of SiO2 in the airways presents a risk factor for the development of COPD.
Zdenka Hajdukova, No Financial Disclosure Information; No Product/Research Disclosure Information