A questionnaire survey of respiratory symptoms was carried out on a group of subjects with exposure to tea fluff in a packaging plant and compared with a group of unexposed workers. The subjects had a higher prevalence of rhinitis, bouts of coughing and chest tightness than the controls. Except in the case of rhinitis however, the differences disappeared when allowance was made for either hay fever or smoking. From the original group of subjects, two smaller groups were chosen, one with and one without symptoms, and peak expiratory flow rates were measured over a 12-day period, including eight working and four non-working days. The mean difference in peak flow was greater on the non-working than on the working days and was not related to age, sex, years of exposure, smoking or atopy. We conclude that there is little evidence to suggest that this group of tea packers shows signs of sensitization but that they are probably exposed to an irritant in the tea fluff.
Hill, B., & Waldron, H. A. (1996). Respiratory symptoms and respiratory function in workers exposed to tea fluff. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 40(5), 491–497. https://doi.org/10.1016/0003-4878(96)00019-1