Introduction: Occupational exposure to dust, even at low doses, is a risk factor to workers' health since it has a significant relationship with respiratory symptoms.
Aim: To assess the impact of dust exposure in the development of respiratory symptoms and lung function abnormalities in workers of a car component factory.
Methods: A voluntarious questionnaire about the presence of respiratory symptoms and its relationship with the working period was filled in by the company workers. Clinical files of the responder workers were consulted for demographic data, workstation type, time of dust exposure, history of respiratory diseases, smoking habits and lung function tests. Association between the presence of at least one respiratory symptom and time of dust exposure was assessed by logistic regression.
Results: We obtained 207 responses: 58.5% women, mean global age of 38.7 years. A total of 110 workers (53.1%) reported at least one respiratory symptom with 73.6% reporting symptoms on working days and 5.9% on weekends. Prevalence of chest tightness, breathless and dyspnea showed a statistically significant association with time of dust exposure (p=0.012, p=0.05 and p<0.001, respectively). Impaired lung function (n=31) was not influenced by time of dust exposure (p=0.263). In multivariate analysis, after adjusting for respiratory diseases history and smoking habits, only dyspnea had a statistically significant association with time of dust exposure (p=0.02). The workstation did not statistically increase the probability of respiratory symptoms.
Conclusion: Respiratory symptoms were more frequent during working days. Time of dust exposure was an independent factor to the prevalence of dyspnea.