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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 826757, 10 pages
Research Article

A Cohort Study on Self-Reported Respiratory Symptoms of Toner-Handling Workers: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analysis from 2003 to 2008

1Department of Work Systems and Health, Institute of Industrial Ecological Sciences, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, 1-1 Iseigaoka Yahatanishi-ward, Kitakyushu 807-8555, Japan
2Department of Haematology, Tokai University School of Medicine, Japan

Received 12 October 2013; Revised 21 January 2014; Accepted 22 January 2014; Published 27 February 2014

Academic Editor: Cheorl-Ho Kim

Copyright © 2014 Hiroko Kitamura et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study examines the relationship between toner-handling work and its health effects on self-reported respiratory symptoms. The subjects were 1,504 male workers in a Japanese toner and photocopier manufacturing company. Personal exposure measurement, pulmonary function tests, chest X-ray examination, measurement of biomarkers, and a questionnaire about self-reported respiratory symptoms were performed annually. This study discusses the questionnaire results. We found that the toner-handling group showed significantly higher prevalence of breathlessness than the never-toner-handling group. The significant reduction of pulmonary function and fibrosis change in the chest X-ray examination associated with breathlessness were not observed. However the morbidity of asthma was higher compared to the Japanese population in both of the toner-handling group and the never-toner handling group, the effect of toner exposure was not clarified. Nevertheless, while the toner exposure levels in the current well-controlled working environment may be sufficiently low to prevent adverse health effects, further studies are needed to assess the more long-term latent health effects of toner exposure.