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October 17, 1977

Respiratory Tract Illness in Meat Wrappers

JAMA. 1977;238(16):1721-1722. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280170015007

To the Editor. —  In a recent letter to the editor (237:1826, 1977) Jones and Weill suggest that their review of respiratory symptoms and lung function in supermarket employees does not support previous reports that related asthma to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) exposure.In an earlier study of respiratory illness in meat wrappers,1 we found that the highest incidence of respiratory symptoms and illness occurred in full-time meat wrappers who were exposed to PVC pyrolysis fumes while working with hotwire cutting machines. No work-related respiratory symptoms were seen in 17 of 145 meat wrappers who used mechanical film cutting machines; more frequent and more severe work-related respiratory symptoms were seen in full-time meat wrappers than in meat cutters who only occasionally wrapped meat. The study of Jones and Weill looked at employees who wrapped meat only intermittently and who usually did so with mechanical film cutters; it is perhaps not