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HOME > Korean J Prev Med > Volume 31(1); 1998 > Article
Original Article Diving patterns and diving related disease of diving fishermen in Korea.
Joon Sakong
Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 1998;31(1):139-156
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Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Korea.

Diving related disease including decompression sickness is an important occupational health problem and diving fishermen remain a fairly hazardous occupation in Korea. To prevent diving related disease, we investigate diving patterns, incidence of diving related diseases, and contributing factors of 433 diving fishermen of three coast interviewing and mailing questionnaire in 1996. Mean age of divers was 39.7 years, ranged from 24 to 58 years, 92.8% of these were male, and 58.4% of divers were high school graduates. Mean duration of work as a diver was 12.9 years, ranged from 2 to 40 years. It was found that 70.4% of divers were using hookah system, 22.2% of helmet, and only 2.5% SCUBA. About half of them have learned diving skills from other divers. The peak season of diving was from April to June and mean working days were 20.3 days per month during the peak season. On the average, the divers dived 5-6 times, ranged from 1 to 10 times a day with 51.1 minutes of diving time, ranged from 20 to 120 minutes, at 30 m or 40 m in depth, and 35.5 minute of interval on surface. Most divers ascended slowly making decompression stop, yet the decompression profile used was not based on any scientific knowledge except for their own experiences. It appeared that each diving system had slightly different diving patterns. There were 282(65.0%) divers that suffered from DCS in 1995 and 31.2% of divers were given recompression therapy at a medical facility since they worked as diving fishermen. Skin and musculoskeletal complaints were common symptoms of DCS and 39% of divers experienced a voiding difficulty. In univariate analysis, females have an increased frequency of DCS(93% vs 66% for males). Old age, long duration of work, helmet diving, diving time, diving depth, repetitive diving, and blow up were all contributing factors to DCS. It was found that most diving patterns exceed no decompression limit and did not use the standard decompression table. This suggests that most of divers are at high risk of developing diving related disease with prolonged dives and lengthy repetitive diving in deep depth. Considering the diving patterns and economic aspect of professional diving, the incidence of DCS among diving fishermen in Korea will not decrease in the near future. These findings suggest that periodic health surveillance for divers, and education of health and safety are important for reducing the risk of diving related disease in the population of diving fishermen.

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