Flour dust is a hazardous substance; it is a respiratory sensitizers which is known to cause allergic rhinitis and occupational asthma. Baker’s asthma is one of the most frequent types of occupational asthma.
The authors conducted this study to assess the effect of exposure to flour dust on pulmonary function tests, prevalence of symptoms (respiratory, allergic/irritating) and parameters of allergic sensitization in terms of skin prick test, and bronchial hyper-responsiveness.
Bakeries in Ismailia city with at least 2 years of occupational exposure, Egypt; and control subjects of comparable socio – demographic characteristics were compared. All participants were subjected to an interview questionnaire, clinical chest examination, skin prick test, bronchial hyper-responsiveness test and measurements of pulmonary function parameters.
All respiratory and allergic symptoms were more prevalent among bakers compared to the control group, with the highest odds ratio for allergic symptoms (OR = 6.9; p < 0.0001) and dyspnea (OR = 6.3; p = 0.0004).
Looking to this the authors suggested that occupational exposure to flour dust may affect respiratory irritation and sensitization, and reduce the pulmonary function tests such as FVC, FEV1, and FEV1/FVC ratio and FEF25-75%.