Longitudinal analysis of respiratory outcomes among bauxite exposed workers in Western Australia
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Introduction: Occupational exposure to bauxite is common in the aluminium industry but little is known about the associated health effects. This study investigates respiratory health in relation to respirable bauxite dust exposure longitudinally over a 13 year period. Methods: An inception cohort study recruited 91 male bauxite miners and 363 male alumina refinery workers. Annual measurements of respiratory symptoms and lung function were made. Cumulative exposure to bauxite was derived from job histories and air monitoring data. Mixed-effects modeling was used. Results: No associations were found between cumulative bauxite exposure and respiratory symptoms or lung function. However, when analysis was restricted to the first three rounds, FEV1 was significantly lower in all exposure groups than in those unexposed but with no significant trend. Conclusion: Increasing exposure to bauxite dust in the aluminum industry was not associated with respiratory symptoms or consistent decrements in lung function.
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