Asthma and fibrosis caused by textiles made from natural fibres


Occupations
  • Clothing industry
  • Ironer
  • Spinning
  • Textile industry
  • Weaving
Agents
Cotton, Flax, Hemp, Jute, Kapok, Nylon, Orlon, Rayon, Silk, Sisal, Wool.
 
Incidence
Incidence: dependent upon the quality of the working environment. In the case of asthma, the mechanism is IgE-dependent, but type III reactions may also occur. Some substances which act as bronchoconstrictors that act directly (endotoxins) may be encountered. Atopy appears to play a role in the case of asthma. Smoking and previous bronchial hyperreactivity aggravate the symptoms. The prevalence of this work-related asthma is around 6%.
 
Conditions
Natural fibres have long been known to be responsible for allergic diseases. In 1961, the first cases of asthma and chronic bronchitis were described in employees working in nylon-producing factories. The raw materials are not the only problem: contaminants and products used in the treatment of the fibres can play a role (formol, dyes etc).
 
Symptoms
The clinical symptoms are numerous : rhinitis, dry eyes and throat, conjuntivitis and sinusitis. Classic asthma may occur and can be accompanied by chronic dyspenoea which develops into chronic obstructive bronchopathy and, in the case of flax, fibrosis (byssinosis). Longitudinal studies over 16 years show that ventilatory problems are significantly increased compared to controls (p<0.05).
 
Diagnostic methods
Skin prick test: extracts commercially available for a number of allergens extracted from natural fibres.
 
Immunological assay: RAST/CAP RAST extracts similarly available.
 
Bronchial provocation test using the raw material (in Hospital) for asthma.

References

  1. Am. J. Ind. Med. 1998,33:263 - Zuskin E. et al.
  2. Am. J. Ind. Med. 1997,31:344 - Zuskin E. et al.
  3. Thorax 1975,30:204
  4. "Pathologie professionnelle dans l'industrie des fibres artificielles" Paris Médecine du travail 1961.
  5. Am. J. Ind. Med. 1988,14:187
  6. Bull. Europ. Physiopath. Resp. 1979,115:455
  7. Wien. Klin. Wochenschr. 1987,99:542
  8. Br. Ind. Med. 1988,45:727
  9. Am. J. Pathol. 1988,133:163
  10. Ann. Allergy 1978,41:48

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.