Several case studies have linked epoxy resin systems to occupational asthma, although medical literature is sparse on the possible respiratory consequences of these compounds in exposed worker populations. The cross workshift variations in pulmonary function and symptoms of 32 shipyard painters exposed to epoxy paints were compared to 28 shipyard painters who were not exposed to epoxy paints to further investigate the link between workplace exposure to epoxy paints and respiratory dysfunction. When painters exposed to epoxy paints were compared to controls, the prevalence of lower respiratory tract symptoms was considerably higher.
The mean cross-workshift change in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) among exposed painters (34%) was greater than the decrease in the non-exposed group (14%). The percent decrease in FEV1 and the number of hours exposed to epoxy paints had a significant linear relationship. According to this study, epoxy resin coatings used by shipyard painters are linked to greater lower respiratory symptoms and acute FEV1 decreases. In workplaces where epoxy resin systems are used, adequate respiratory protection and medical surveillance programs should be developed.