Nav: Home

Study establishes lung health response to cement dust exposure

April 20, 2016

Long-term exposure to cement dust at levels that are comparable to the present occupational exposure limits could cause a decline in lung volumes, according to a new study.

The research, published today (21 April, 2016) in the European Respiratory Journal, is the first study to assess whether differing levels of exposure have a different level of impact on lung health.

Over 61,000 workers in the EU are employed in the cement production industry. During the production of cement, workers may be exposed to airborne particulate matter (dust) generated from cement and raw materials. Previous studies have linked inhalation of dust among this group of workers to airway symptoms and changes in the airflow in the lungs, but this is the first to find that the risk of ill-health was increased when the level of exposure increased.

A total of 4,966 workers from eight different countries were included in the study in 2007 and 2009. Researchers analysed air samples from cement production plants, measured lung function of the workers and collected data from questionnaires taken at the start of the study and at the follow-up time in 2009 and 2011-2012.

The results showed that a decline in lung function over time was consistently associated with increasing exposure to dust from cement production.

Dr Karl-Christian Nordby, from the National Institute of Occupational Health in Norway and lead author of the study, commented: "Our results found that declines in lung volume are consistently associated with increases in exposure to cement dust. More than half of the study population was exposed to dust levels that induced statistically significant excess lung function decline. It is important that preventive measures beyond respiratory protection are implemented in order to reduce exposure and prevent lung function decline. The substantial differences between exposure levels in the plants suggest that this should be possible."

The workers were grouped into five categories based on their personal exposure to dust. Exposure measurements in this study focused on the inhaled particles that could reach the lower airways. This provided a more precise understanding of the harmful effects on the airways than the total dust exposure measurement, which is often used for occupational exposure limits.

The measurements used in the study cannot be compared directly to the levels of total dust exposure that are used in occupational exposure limits. However, the authors were able to analyse previous data for the participating plants that used the total dust exposure measurement to provide a comparison for their findings.

Lung function testing was used to measure forced expiratory volumes in order to assess decline in lung function. Forced expiratory volumes in one second (FEV1) is a measure of the volume of air that can be forcibly exhaled in one second after inhalation, and is the most important measure of obstructive lung changes. The results of the study predicted a yearly excess decline of 0.84 percentage points of the predicted value of FEV1, standardised for age, sex and standing height, in the highest exposure group compared to the lowest. Over a period of 20 years, this would lead to an added loss of more than 400 ml in lung capacity in the highest exposure group. Although no consensus currently exists regarding reference values for normal lung volume changes, the decline would be clinically relevant.

European Lung Foundation

Related Lung Function Articles:

Lung function decline accelerates in menopausal women
Menopausal women appear to experience an accelerated decline in lung function, according to new research published online ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Using lung function tests to diagnose COPD can help patients and reduce health care costs
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease would benefit if pulmonary function testing was used more consistently to diagnose the condition, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Physical activity may help preserve lung function in individuals with asthma
In a study of adults with asthma, active individuals had slightly less lung function decline than inactive individuals.
Artificial intelligence could improve diagnostic power of lung function tests
Artificial intelligence could improve the interpretation of lung function tests for the diagnosis of long-term lung diseases, according to the findings of a new study.
Elimination of senescent cells improves lung function in mice
In this issue of JCI Insight, Masataka Sugimoto and colleagues at the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo examined the role of cellular senescence in aging lungs, as there is a well-documented decrease in lung function with age.
Severity of kyphosis and decline in lung function: The Framingham study
Researchers from the Harvard affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research, have published a recent article in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, suggesting that preventing or slowing progression of hyperkyphosis may reduce pulmonary decline in older adults.
Lung function may affect vocal health for women
Vocal fatigue is a common complaint among teachers and one of the most debilitating conditions that can lead to vocal damage.
Hydroxyurea improves lung function in children with sickle cell disease
For the first time, researchers were able to demonstrate that children diagnosed with sickle cell disease showed improvement in lung function after treatment with hydroxyurea, a treatment that is underused despite its demonstrated benefits.
Exacerbations of COPD accelerate lung-function loss
Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) accelerate the loss of lung function especially among patients with mild disease, according to researchers at National Jewish Health and other institutions.
Being fit may slow lung function decline as we age
Being fit may reduce the decline in lung function that occurs as we grow older, according to research presented at the ATS 2016 International Conference.

Related Lung Function Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...