Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2022 Oct;26(20):7454-7460. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202210_30014.
OBJECTIVE: This study used the Sniffin’ Sticks test battery to evaluate olfactory function in employees of a bakery exposed to flour dust.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The study enrolled 43 individuals with exposure (i.e., to flour) plus 41 healthy volunteers as controls. Olfactory function was assessed in these subjects through the use of the Sniffin’ Sticks test battery. The overall score was calculated by adding up the scores for each of the 12 separate odors. A score of 6 or less was deemed anosmia, from 7 to 10 hyposmia, and a score of 11 or 12 was taken to indicate no impairment of olfaction.
RESULTS: There was a statistically significant difference between the scores obtained in the exposure group (10.09±2.29) and the control group (10.73±2.07), the exposure group having a lower score (p<0.05). Within the exposure group, men and women did not score differently (p>0.05). Furthermore, in this group, the overall score did not correlate significantly with age, sex, length of employment, or use of tobacco or alcohol use (p>0.05). Using the scheme employed in this study, 9.3% of the exposed workers were anosmic, compared to 9.8% in the controls, whereas 34.9% of baker workers were hyposmic, compared to just 14.6% of the controls. Thus, our study shows that impairment of the ability to smell was present in 44.2% of individuals exposed occupationally to flour dust.
CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals that being exposed to flour dust reduces the ability to smell normally. In order to minimize the impact of being exposed, workplaces should ensure adequate ventilation and provide workers with protective facemasks.