Byssinosis and tuberculosis amongst "home-based" powerloom workers in Madhya Pradesh State, India.


International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) South East Asia Office, New Delhi, India. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Byssinosis is an occupational lung disease observed among workers exposed to cotton, flax, and hemp dust. The severity and extent of Byssinosis are well recognised in the high-income countries and control measures have been implemented to prevent the disease. In India, there are conflicting evidence on burden estimation of the disease, followed by inadequate prevention and control of Byssinosis.
METHODS : We did a cross-sectional study to assess the prevalence of Byssinosis in "home-based" power-loom workers in Mominpura, an administrative ward of Burhanpur Municipality with 2800 population in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. 290 adults working from "home-based" power loom units were randomly selected, profiled and screened for Byssinosis like symptoms with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and simple hand-held peak expiratory flow monitor. For epidemiological purposes the symptoms were classified based on Schilling's classification. Chest x-rays were done for selected subjects. Sputum smear microscopy for detecting TB was done for those who had Byssinosis like symptoms.
RESULTS : Prevalence of Byssinosis among "home based" powerloom workers was found to be 98% [n = 283, 95 CI (95.65-98.96)]. Peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) was reduced in 44% (n = 124), of which 81 (29%) had more than 50% PEFR reduction, and of these, 69 (29%) were in early stage of Byssinosis (Grade 0.5). 11% of study participants who had Byssinosis like symptoms, also had TB.
CONCLUSIONS : Byssinosis is highly prevalent in "home-based" power loom units in Madhya Pradesh. Adequate advocacy on awareness and prevention; prompt diagnosis and linkages to treatment services in "home-based" power loom units are urgently required to address Byssinosis at an early disease stage.