The effect of exposure to chlorine on pulmonary function tests and respiratory and allergic symptoms in Iranian lifeguards.
Toxicol Ind Health. 2014 Apr ;30(3):218-24. Epub 2012 Jul 30. PMID: 22851523
M H Boskabady
Lifeguards are frequently exposed to various irritant chemicals including chlorine during work, which can induce respiratory and allergic disorders. In this study, pulmonary function tests (PFTs) and self-reported respiratory and allergic symptoms in lifeguards were compared with matched control subjects. The frequency of respiratory and allergic symptoms was evaluated in a sample of 38 Iranian male lifeguards and 38 control subjects with similar age, having other jobs from the general population, using a questionnaire including questions on work-related respiratory and allergic symptoms in the past year, smoking habits, and duration of working as a lifeguard. PFTs were also measured in lifeguard subjects before and 15 min after 200 µg inhaled salbutamol and baseline PFT in controls. A total of 22 (55%) participants reported work-related respiratory symptoms. Sputum (39.4%) and cough (18.4%) were the most common symptoms and only 7.9% and 15.8% of lifeguards reported wheezing and shortness of breath, respectively. Both sputum and breathlessness were significantly higher in lifeguards than control group (p < 0.05 and p < 0.005, respectively). Most allergic symptoms (sneezing and runny nose) in lifeguards were also significantly greater than control group (p < 0.05 for both cases). In addition, all respiratory (except sputum and wheezing) and allergic symptoms were significantly higher in lifeguards during work compared with rest period (p < 0.05 to p < 0.005). Most PFT values were also significantly lower in lifeguards than control subjects (p < 0.05 to p < 0.001). In addition, most (all) PFT values were significantly improved after 200 µg inhaled salbutamol (p < 0.05 to p < 0.001). These results showed that lifeguards have higher frequencies of work related respiratory symptoms and allergic symptoms particularly during the work period. PFT values were also significantly reduced among lifeguards.