Respiratory morbidity in a coffee processing workplace with sentinel obliterative bronchiolitis cases
Rationale Obliterative bronchiolitis in former coffee workers prompted a cross-sectional study of current workers. Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione levels were highest in areas for flavoring and grinding/packaging unflavored coffee.
Methods We interviewed 75 (88%) workers, measured lung function, and created exposure groups based on work history. We calculated standardized morbidity ratios (SMRs) for symptoms and spirometric abnormalities. We examined health outcomes by exposure groups.
Results SMRs were elevated 1.6-fold for dyspnea and 2.7-fold for obstruction. The exposure group working in both coffee flavoring and grinding/packaging of unflavored coffee areas had significantly lower mean ratio of forced expiratory volume in 1 s to forced vital capacity and percent predicted mid-expiratory flow than workers without such exposure.
Conclusion Current workers have occupational lung morbidity associated with high diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione exposures, which were not limited to flavoring areas.