To evaluate a suspected association between an outbreak of acute respiratory illness and eosinophilia and employment as a rubber worker, we performed a retrospective review of medical records of rubber workers employed from September 1983 to July 1984 in a plant housing a thermoinjection process. Twenty‐five workers met the case definition of a respiratory illness requiring a physician visit. The predominant respiratory illness was acute in onset with cough, chest tightness, and dyspnea. Peripheral eosinophilia, up to 40% of white blood cells in a peripheral smear, was seen in 10 of 18 (56%) cases. Twenty‐one of 25 white males with respiratory symptoms were employed in the thermoinjection process (odds ratio = 22, p < .001). Smoking and employment in this process contributed independently to an increased risk of being a case as determined by a logistic regression analysis. Return to the plant building caused recurrence of symptoms in most cases, and these workers have been transferred or left the company. We conclude that a strong previously unrecognized association exists between employment in this neoprene rubber thermoinjection process and the development of an acute respiratory illness.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health