Respiratory findings in mail carriers

E. Zuskin, J. Mustajbegovic, E. N. Schachter, J. Kern, V. Vadjic, N. Strok, N. Turcic, Z. Ebling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The results of the recording of respiratory symptoms and the measurement of lung function in 136 male postal workers employed as mail carriers were studied. In addition, the prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms in 87 male nonexposed control workers was also examined. There was a significantly higher prevalence of chronic bronchitis (25.0%) and sinusitis (38.9%) in mail carriers than in control workers (13.8%; P < 0.05 and 2.3%; P < 0.01). A logistic regression analysis performed on the results of the study of chronic respiratory symptoms of mail carriers indicated a significant (P < 0.001) effect of smoking in this cohort, with the exception of occupational asthma. Mail carriers who smoked had a significantly higher prevalence of chronic cough (45.3%), chronic phlegm (39.1%), chronic bronchitis (39.1%) and sinusitis (53.1%) than mail carriers who were nonsmokers (18.1%; 12.5%; 12.5% and 26.4% respectively.) (P < 0.01). A high prevalence of acute symptoms developing during the work-shift was recorded, in both smokers and nonsmokers, being highest for upper airway symptoms, headache (50.0%), nasal catarrh (42.6%), and eye irritation (57.4%). The results of tests for average measured ventilatory capacity (as a percentage of predicted capacity) were significantly lower than expected, particularly for maximum flow rates at the last 25% of the vital capacity (FEF25), in both smokers (68.5%) and in nonsmokers (74.2%). A multivariate analysis of lung function parameters indicated a significant effect of employment conditions. The only major identifiable occupational exposure of mail carriers was to ambient air pollution for an average of 6 h per day as well as to adverse meteorological conditions. The measured ambient concentrations of major outdoor pollutants, primarily total suspended particulates, sulfur dioxide (SO2) and black smoke exceeded considerably the recommended Croatian maximum air quality standards over the past 10 years. Our study of mail carriers demonstrated that these workers were subject to respiratory symptoms associated with their smoking habits. Lung function findings suggested that occupational exposures, possibly to atmospheric pollution in combination with adverse meteorological conditions, may have led to lung function impairment in these workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-143
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000


  • Mail carriers
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Ventilatory capacity


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