Respiratory protection: associated factors and effectiveness of respirator use among underground coal miners.Am J Ind Med. 2002 Jul; 42(1):55-62.AJ
We investigated factors associated with the use of respiratory protection and explored the effectiveness of respirators among coal miners.
Between 1987 and 1992, respiratory symptoms, smoking, lung function, and dust exposures were assessed longitudinally among 185 underground bituminous coal miners. Self-reported use of respiratory protection was expressed as mean percent time wearing a respirator.
Miners' respirator use increased with mean dust concentration, but decreased with tobacco consumption. Increasing age was associated with greater respirator use. Miners who had respiratory symptoms at the initial survey subsequently reported greater use of respirators. A significant protective association was found between the miners' respirator use and FEV(1) levels at both the initial and follow-up surveys.
These results provide additional evidence that respirator use is protective of lung health. When respiratory protection programs are developed, factors that may affect respirator use behavior, such as age, smoking, and respiratory symptoms, should be considered. Future studies of respiratory health will need to consider workers' use of respiratory protection.