Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2002;28(4):249-255    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.672

Sleep apnea and occupational exposure to solvents

by Heiskel H, Gunzenhäuser D, Seidler A, Volk S, Pflug B, Kauppinen T, Elsner G

Objectives The possible effects of exposure to neurotoxic substances such as gasoline, diesel fuel, paint, varnish, and solvents on the pathogenesis of obstructive sleep apnea were examined.

Methods Four hundred and forty-three persons with incident obstructive sleep apnea were recruited within the framework of a case-referent study. A reference population (N=397) was included as the first reference group. In addition 106 patients whose sleep laboratory findings confirmed that they were not suffering from obstructive sleep apnea were then included as a second reference group. Data were gathered with a questionnaire which had to be filled out by the persons with obstructive sleep apnea (cases) and the referents themselves. In the assessment of occupational exposure the questionnaires were filled out by the subjects themselves, and a job-exposure matrix was also used. Data were analyzed using logistic regression to control for age, region, body mass index, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Results None of the exposures were statistically significantly associated with obstructive sleep apnea. There was no correlation with occupation. Only current activities in service occupations revealed an increased odds ratio, 1.6 (95% confidence interval 1.1-2.4).

Conclusions No suggestion was found of an association between exposure to solvents and obstructive sleep apnea.