Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1996;22(6):451-456    pdf


Bronchial asthma and air pollution at workplaces

by Flodin U, Ziegler J, Jönsson P, Axelson O

Objectives This case-referent study was performed to investigate the possibility of nonspecific air pollution at workplaces increasing the risk of bronchial asthma for formerly healthy adults.

Methods Seventy-nine cases of asthma, diagnosed at a lung clinic, among persons aged 20--65 years were compared with 304 referents drawn randomly from the population of the catchment area. Questionnaire information was obtained regarding occupation, exposure to suspect allergens, place of residence, smoking habits, and atopy. The subjects' occupations were categorized into four air pollution classes based on how the referents reported air pollution in their respective occupations.

Results Three years or more of work in air-polluted occupations resulted in an odds ratio of 3.0 (OR) (95% confidence interval 1.5--6.1) in a comparison with work in occupations with slight or no air pollution. Stratification of the material for smoking habits or atopy did not alter the results. Nor did the exclusion of specific exposures to asthmatogenic agents such as isocyanates, stainless steel welding, or aluminum salts change the effects of the nonspecific air pollution at workplaces. Smoking per se was associated with an almost doubled risk for asthma (OR 1.9, 95% confidence interval 1.1--3.4).

Conclusion The results of this study support an association between occupational exposure to nonspecific air pollution and the development of bronchial asthma.

The following article refers to this text: 2002;28(1):49-57