Cobalt exposure and lung disease in tungsten carbide production. A cross-sectional study of current workers

The American Review of Respiratory Disease
N L SprinceR I Chamberlin


A cross-sectional study of 1,039 tungsten carbide (TC) production workers was carried out. The purposes were (1) to evaluate the prevalence of interstitial lung disease (ILD) and work-related wheezing, (2) to assess correlations between cobalt exposure and pulmonary disease, (3) to compare lung disease in grinders of hard carbide versus nongrinders, and (4) to evaluate the effects of new and previous threshold limit values for cobalt of 50 and 100 micrograms/m3. We obtained medical and occupational histories, flow-volume loops, single breath carbon monoxide diffusing capacity (DLCO), and chest radiographs. Time-weighted average cobalt levels were determined at every step in the production process. Work-related wheeze occurred in 113 participants (10.9%). Profusion greater than or equal to 1/0 occurred in 26 (2.6%) and interstitial lung disease (defined as profusion greater than or equal to 1M, FVC or DLCO less than or equal to 70%, and FEV1/FVC% greater than or equal to 75) in 7 (0.7%). The relative odds of work-related wheeze was 2.1 times for present cobalt exposures exceeding 50 micrograms/m3 compared with exposures less than or equal to 50 micrograms/m3. The relative odds of profusion greater than or equal to 1/0 was 5.1 ti...Continue Reading


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