Inhaling textile dust triples the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, which is an immune system disorder that causes swelling and pain in the joints. Although smoking is considered to be a risk factor for the disease the recent tests suggest that there could be other environmental factors involved that could trigger rheumatoid arthritis in some people.
The research suggests that textile dust might cause changes in the lung tissues triggering an immune response from the body which results in rheumatoid arthritis in individuals who have a genetic risk factor for the disease.
There is too little information on the subject so far therefore it hasn’t been proven yet that textile dust causes rheumatoid arthritis. The information gathered suggests that factory workers may have respiratory protections that prevent or at least minimize inhalation of the pollutant.
A public health initiative could prove beneficial for people In developing countries where the textile industry is common.
One of the studies aimed at discovering whether textile dust leads to the development of rheumatoid arthritis gathered data from 910 women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and 910 women who weren’t affected by the disease. Most of the women didn’t smoke so their exposure was just to one of the main causes of rheumatoid arthritis. Of the women with rheumatoid arthritis only 4.5% were exposed to textile dust at work and of those who didn’t had the disease only 1.7% were exposed to the dust.
The women who were exposed to textile dust had a risk factor 2.8 times higher of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who weren’t.
Among the women with rheumatoid arthritis, 40% of them had a genetic risk factor called HLA-DRB1 SE that increases the risk of developing the disease. the women who possessed the risk factor and were exposed to textile dust were 39 times more likely to poses antibodies known as ACPA that can speed the progression of the disease.
Unfortunately the study had a lack of information regarding the other toxins women might be exposed to and could contribute to rheumatoid arthritis. The other problem was about the place of work. The researchers didn’t know whether the women worked at a factory or from home.
There is also the possibility that another factor, besides dust in the textile industry could be responsible for the increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The previous research linked the disease in men to inhaled silica which is another occupational risk the same as dust fumes.
One of the specialists who weren’t involved in the study theorized that textile dust might contain nanoparticles of carbon which can alter the environment inside the lungs thus triggering an autoimmune response resulting in the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
The tests regarding textile dust which can cause rheumatoid arthritis, strengthens the idea that in some individuals the disease is occupational.