A long-term study of pulmonary function at low exposures to chlorine
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A total of 44 employees (43 men and 1 woman) in the chlorine plant at Akzo Nobel, Skoghall, have been studied with regard to pulmonary lung and bronchial function. This investigation is a follow-up study and registers the differences between the results of the studies performed in 1983 and 1994. The group being studied has been compared with a control group consisting of 33 white-collar workers (32 men and 1 women). The length of exposure to the gas varies between 9 and 40 years, with an average of 23 years. The concentration of chlorine gas in the plant has, as a rule, been less than 0.5 ppm. Pulmonary function has been registered with a spirometer, from which VC and FEV1.0 have been measured. The age of the group being studied is between 30 and 64 years and that of the control group is between 32 and 63 years.
Our results indicate that exposure to low concentrations of chlorine gas does not impair pulmonary and bronchial capacity. Neither can any deterioration be seen after repeated exposure to near-accident situations where there has been a risk of chlorine gas intoxication. On the other hand, this study also shows that smoking is harmful to the lungs and bronchi. Large gains in body-weight reduce lung capacity and also, to a certain degree, bronchial capacity. Smoking habits and weight-increase have been examined in two groups as they differ slightly, but do not influence the results.