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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Investigator Studies Chronic Bronchitis and COPD among Pakistani Textile Workers

Dr. Nalini Sathiakumar, professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recently led a study to ascertain how often chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) occur among textile workers in Karachi, Pakistan, as well as to determine which contributing factors were associated with the onset of these conditions. The cross-sectional survey was conducted in collaboration with Drs. Asaad Ahmed Nafees, Zafar Fatmi, and Muhammad Masood Kadir of Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, as part of the Fogarty-funded UAB International Training and Research in Environmental and Occupational Health initiative, which was designed to prepare Pakistani, Indian, and Sri Lankan scientists to address issues regarding environmental and occupational health hazards both within their countries and globally.

[Photo: Dr. Nalini Sathiakumar]

The researchers used the American Thoracic Society’s respiratory questionnaire (ATS-DLD-78a) and spirometry (a test that measures how much air a person inhales and exhales, in addition to how quickly the subject exhales) to study 372 male workers from 15 Karachi textile mills. Results indicate that “29 (7.8 percent) workers had chronic bronchitis (4, 9.1 percent aged 40 years or older) and 25 (6.7 percent) had COPD (12, 27.2 percent aged 40 years or older). Workers with chronic bronchitis had significantly decreased lung function compared to the healthy workers. Those reporting severe self-perceived dust exposure at work, 10 or more pack years of smoking, uneducated, longer duration of work (11 years or more), and ever smokers were more likely to have chronic bronchitis or COPD. In the multivariate analyses, severe self-perceived dust exposure at work (AOR = 7.4; 95 percent confidence interval [CI]: 1.9, 28.0), family history of respiratory illness/symptoms (AOR = 4.8; 95 percent CI: 1.1, 20.9), and lack of education (AOR = 4.2; 95 percent CI: 1.1, 16.9) were significant predictors of chronic bronchitis. Duration of work of 11 or more years (AOR = 5.5; 95 percent CI: 1.5, 19.7) and pack years of smoking of 10 or years (AOR = 3.5; 95 percent CI: 1.1, 11.7) were strong predictors for COPD.”

Dr. Sathiakumar and colleagues concluded that there is a high frequency of chronic bronchitis and COPD among Karachi textile workers. Additionally, they were able to identify several significant predictors that could aid in prevention.

“Chronic Bronchitis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Among Textile Workers in Karachi, Pakistan” was published in May in the Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan.

Journal article: