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||A survey for rhinitis in an automotive ring manufacturing plant.
||Park DU, Jin KW, Koh DH, Kim BK, Kim KS, Park DY
||We report findings regarding otolaryngologist-confirmed rhinitis, current exposure to MWF aerosols, fungi, and endotoxins for workers in a plant manufacturing automobile piston rings. Questionnaire data showed that 61.5% of 187 workers exhibited rhinitis-related symptoms. Rhinitis was confirmed in 99 of 115 workers whom were medically examined. Otolaryngologist-confirmed rhinitis was present in 10 of 19 grinding workers (52.6%), 67 of 142 production workers (47.2%), and 22 of 26 quality control (QC) workers (84.6%). These rates are much higher than the rates of rhinitis-related symptoms in automobile plants and other occupational settings and quite high even allowing for the common occurrence of rhinitis in the general population. We found that rhinitis could develop even in workers exposed to less than 0.5mg/m(3) MWF aerosol. The average exposure to fungi exceeded 10 x 10(3) CFU/m(3), a level higher than that reported for other automobile plants. Although we were unable to identify significant risk factors for rhinitis using only the physician-confirmed rhinitis cases, this study concludes that exposure to MWF aerosol, which would include microbes and metals, could contribute to a high occurrence of rhinitis in grinding and production workers. Forty-nine workers (63.6%) of 77 rhinitis patients in grinding and production operations were determined to handle synthetic MWF directly. For QC workers, for whom the prevalence of physician-confirmed rhinitis was highest, exposure to a low level of MWF aerosol, including specific microbe species we couldn't identify, bright light, dry air, and certain work characteristics during inspection are possible risk factors for development of rhinitis. Further studies including identification of fungi species should be conducted so a firm conclusion can be made regarding the development of rhinitis in QC manufacturing plant workers.