Student Research: Son Phan

, Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM), 2006
Faculty Advisor: Matthew C. Keifer

A Study of Silicosis Risk on Vietnamese Refractory Brick Workers


Abstract

Rationale: Refractory brick manufacturing releases large amounts of crystalline silica dust into the work environment due to the use of silica containing materials such as kaolin clay and rock. Workers working in this industry are potentially exposed to silica dust and consequently at high risk for development of silicosis. This study is proposed to achieve the overall goal of identifying job categories that are sensitive indicators of risk for pneumoconiosis.

Specific aims: 171 refractory brick workers participated in a cross-sectional study. The study has two specific aims: (1) to characterize the respiratory health effects of silica exposure to workers with chest radiography, respiratory symptoms and pulmonary function by job category; (2) to identify which job task profiles best predicts the presence of pulmonary fibrosis in Vietnamese refractory brick workers.

Results: The high prevalence of radiographic silicosis (overall prevalence of 12.3%) was found among workers working in the refractory brick industry in Vietnam. Job category was an important determinant of risk of silicosis. Additionally, job category could also predict risk for losing capacity of the pulmonary function among this population. Refractory brick workers might be at an increased risk for development of chronic respiratory symptoms such as cough, sputum, cough with sputum, and shortness of breath due to the high prevalence of these symptoms. The findings from this study also indicated a significant association between duration of exposure and respiratory symptoms.