The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2006 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

PULMONARY FUNCTION TEST AND WORKE-RELATED RESPIRSTORY SYMPTOMS IN HAIRDRESSERS



Background:  Hairdressers are exposed to various irritating chemicals during work which may induce respiratory problems.

Objective: Pulmonary function tests and self-reported respiratory symptoms in hairdressers were compared with matched subjects for age and gender.

Methods: Pulmonary function tests were measured in a cohort of 50 Iranian female hairdressers and PFT values were compared with age and smoking habits matched samples of women from general population as control group. We also used a questionnaire to evaluate prevalence of respiratory symptoms among hairdressers. The questionnaire pertained to recurrent wheeze, breathlessness, cough while at work (these symptoms define work-related respiratory symptoms), history of allergy, and types of irritant chemicals inducing respiratory symptoms.

Results: Forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) was less than 80% of predicted value in 27.5% of hairdressers. In addition, means of FEV1, FVC (forced vital capacity), and PEF (peak expiratory flow) were significantly lower in hairdressers compared to controls (p<0.05). There were 25 subjects (49%) with work-related respiratory symptoms. Cough (33%) and breathlessness (29%) were the most common symptoms and only 4% of hairdressers reported wheezing while at work. Hairdressers pronounced bleaching powder (23%) and hair spray (8%) as the most irritant chemicals which provoke their respiratory symptoms.

Conclusion: Findings suggest that PFT values are significantly lower in hairdressers than general population. Hairdressers also pronounce a high prevalence of work-related respiratory symptoms after exposure to bleaching powder and hair spray.

Figure -Distribution of pulmonary volumes in hairdressers and controls

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