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March 1, 1976

Respiratory Tract Illness in Meat Wrappers

Author Affiliations

From the Cancer and Birth Defects Division, Bureau of Epidemiology, Center for Disease Control, Atlanta (Dr Falk), and the Communicable Disease Division, City of Houston Health Department (Dr Portnoy). Dr Portnoy is now an Infectious Disease Fellow, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.

JAMA. 1976;235(9):915-917. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260350019020

A questionnaire survey was done in 152 Houston supermarkets to assess the prevalence of respiratory tract symptoms in meat wrappers exposed to the thermal decomposition fumes of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) film wrap and in two supermarket control groups (checkers and meat cutters). Meat wrappers had increased respiratory tract symptoms; 12% of meat wrappers who smoked (vs 6% and 2% of controls) and 5% of meat wrappers who did not smoke (vs 0% and 0% of controls) had multiple respiratory tract symptoms. It is probable that a large number of meat wrappers have mild symptoms with some progressing to more severe respiratory impairment or clinical asthma.

(JAMA 235:915-917, 1976)