Respiratory Symptoms and Pulmonary Function of Workers in the Waste Management Industry


Introduction: Waste handling workers are exposed to air pollutants and toxic compounds produced during waste management and processing that can cause respiratory symptoms and lung function impairment. This study aimed to evaluate the respiratory health of exposed workers in a waste management plant in Attica, Greece.

Methods: 50 field workers exposed to outdoor pollutants (exposure group) and 32 office clerks with no exposure (control group) were evaluated. Upper and lower respiratory symptoms were documented and spirometry was performed.

Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the exposure and the control group in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1)%, forced vital capacity (FVC)%, FEV1/FVC% predicted values. Workers had lower maximal mid-expiratory flow (MMEF)% predicted values compared to controls (82% vs 94%, p=0.019). No difference was observed regarding the respiratory symptoms between the two groups.

Conclusion: Lower MMEF values were observed in the exposure group. Low MMEF can be indicative of small airway disease, thus smoking cessation, close follow-up, and the use of personal protective equipment are recommended.

Authors: Chrysovalantis V Papageorgiou, Petros Savourdos, Eleni Douna, Vasiliki E Georgakopoulou, Sotiria Makrodimitri, Georgios Dounias
; Full Source: Cureus 2021 Aug 9;13(8):e17027. doi: 10.7759/cureus.17027.