, Volume 154, Issue 1, pp 167–186 | Cite as

Epidemiology of chronic lung disease in a cotton mill community

  • A. Bouhuys
  • J. B. Schoenberg
  • G. J. Beck
  • R. S. F. Schilling


We recorded respiratory symptoms and maximum expiratory flow-volume curves in 645 white male and female cotton textile workers, aged 45 years and older, with an average of 35 years employment in carding, spinning, yarn preparing, weaving and other jobs in cotton textile mills. We included retired as well as active workers, to avoid the biases inherent in studies of active workers only. We compared the data on the textile workers with those of 662 female and 498 male white residents of three communities without cotton textile mills (controls), considering sex, age and smoking habits. Textile workers of both sexes, irrespective of age, had significant excesses of chronic cough, wheezing, dyspnea and other symptoms, in comparison with the controls. Work in textile mills was the prime variable affecting symptom prevalence, with smoking as an additional significant variable for all symptoms except dyspnea. The lungfunction data confirmed that textile workers were at much greater risk of chronic lung disease, with loss of function, than the controls, in all smoking categories. There was evidence that chronic lung disease often led to premature retirement among the male textile workers. The excess risk of lung-function loss occurred among workers in yarn preparing and weaving, as well as in carding and spinning, but not among workers employed in clothrooms and in other dust-free jobs. At least 35,000 men and women in the U.S. may suffer from disabling lung-function loss, owing to chronic lung disease, as a result of their work in cotton textile mills. Adequate programs of prevention and control of chronic lung disease, a late stage of byssinosis, as well as of the earlier acute manifestations of byssinosis, are urgently needed.

Key words

Byssinosis Cotton dust Occupational lung diseases Community surveys Lung function Dust exposure 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Bouhuys
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. B. Schoenberg
    • 1
  • G. J. Beck
    • 1
  • R. S. F. Schilling
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale University Lung Research Center and John B. Pierce FoundationNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Yale University Medical School Lung Research CenterNew HavenUSA

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