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Original Research |

Increased Lung Function Decline in Blue-collar Workers Exposed to Welding FumesLung Function Decline and Welding

Isabelle Thaon, MD, PhD; Valérie Demange, MD; Fabrice Herin, MD; Annie Touranchet, MD; Christophe Paris, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From Unité Mixte de Recherche 6249 Chrono-environnement Centre National de Recherche Scientifique/Université de Franche-Comté (Dr Thaon), Besançon; the Occupational Diseases Department (Drs Thaon and Herin), University Hospital, and Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U954 (Dr Paris), Nancy; the Department of Epidemiology (Dr Demange), Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité, Vandœuvre; and Inspection médicale du travail des Pays de Loire (Dr Touranchet), Nantes, France.

Correspondence to: Isabelle Thaon, MD, PhD, Centre de Consultations de Pathologies Professionnelles Bâtiment Philippe Canton, rue du Morvan 54511, Vandœuvre lès Nancy, France; e-mail: i.thaon@chu-nancy.fr

Financial/nonfinancial disclosures: The authors have reported to CHEST that no potential conflicts of interest exist with any companies/organizations whose products or services may be discussed in this article.

Role of sponsors: The sponsors had no role in the design of the study, the collection and analysis of the data, or in the preparation of the manuscript.

Funding/Support: This study was supported by the Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale.


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.

Funding/Support: This study was supported by the Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale.


Chest. 2012;142(1):192-199. doi:10.1378/chest.11-0647
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Published online

Background:  There is no consensus at the present time about the effect of welding on lung function decline. This study compared lung function decline between blue-collar workers exposed and not exposed to welding fumes in a French longitudinal cohort of 21,238 subjects aged 37 to 52 years at inclusion.

Methods:  Medical data, occupation, sector of activity, and spirometry were recorded twice by occupational physicians in 1990 and 1995. A job-exposure matrix was used to identify 503 male blue-collar workers exposed to welding fumes and 709 control subjects and to define the weekly duration of exposure to welding fumes.

Results:  Baseline lung function parameters were higher in workers exposed to welding fumes than in control subjects. After a 5-year follow-up, welding-fume exposure was associated with a nonsignificant decline in FVC (P = .06) and FEV1 (P = .07) after adjustment for age, pack-years, BMI, and baseline value of the parameter. A significant accelerated decline in FEV1 (P = .046) was also observed in never smokers exposed to welding fumes. An “exposure-response” relationship was observed between FEV1 decline and weekly duration of exposure to welding fumes in nonsmokers but not in smokers.

Conclusions:  Blue-collar workers exposed to welding fumes showed accelerated decline in lung function, which, in nonsmokers, was related to weekly duration of exposure.


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