Influence of smoking on respiratory symptoms and lung function indices in sawmill workers in Benin city, Nigeria.
The study was done to assess the influence of smoking on respiratory symptoms and respiratory function in sawmill workers in Benin City. 150 sawmill workers who were all males and aged between 18 and 50 years, and had been in continuous employment in sawmill factories for a
minimum of one year were studied. They were selected by a two - stage random sampling process from sawmills in Benin City. These were compared to 150 age and sex matched controls in order to determine the effect of sawdust exposure on the respiratory system. Questionnaire was used to elicit morbidity patterns and anthropometric measurements were also made. Respiratory rates, Peak Expiratory Flow Rates and Blood Pressures were measured in both groups. Respiratory symptoms were more common among sawmill workers compared to the controls. Smoking by some of these workers further aggravated their respiratory symptoms. Although blood pressure was similar in both groups, Respiratory rates were higher and Peak Flow Rates were lower in the sawmill workers compared to the controls (20.83 +- 2.02 cycles/minute and 516.72 +- 38.48 L/minute for the sawmill workers; 15.45 +- 1.23 cycles/minute and 575.37 +- 27.34 L/minute for the controls, respectively). Less than 5% of the sawmill workers wore protective devices/clothing, and health and safety standards were neither practiced nor enforced. The findings suggest that respiratory symptoms especially sputum production and chest pain are common in sawmill workers. Respiratory function is compromised in these workers.
Key Words: Respiratory symptoms, smoking, sawmill workers.