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April 25, 1977

Respiratory Health and Polyvinyl Chloride Fumes

JAMA. 1977;237(17):1826. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270440016008

To the Editor.—  Recent letters (236: 1117, 1118, 1976) are evidence of continuing interest in respiratory health and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) fumes. Meat-wrappers' asthma has been the subject of case reports (226:639, 1973), questionnaire surveys,1 and inhalation challenge testing.2 In 1975, we collected data on respiratory symptoms and lung function from 150 employees of a supermarket chain in New Orleans. Seventy-two persons were exposed to PVC in meat or produce wrapping, and 78 were not. The exposed group had a mean age of 35 years (±12.2 years), and 83% were smokers or ex-smokers. The nonexposed group had a mean age of 35 years (±12.7 years), and 74% were smokers or ex-smokers. Forty-one percent of exposed and 44% of nonexposed persons were considered atopic.In 1972 to 1973, the management replaced most of the hot-wire wrapping machines with machines equipped with mechanical film cutters (but these are fitted with hot