Occupational Asthma Reference

Beach JR, Dennis JH, Avery AJ, Bromly CL, Ward RJ, Walters EH, Stenton SC, Hendrick DJ, An epidemiologic investigation of asthma in welders, Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 1996;154:1394-1400,

Keywords: asthma, welder, steel, shipyard, cross sectional, br, prevalence

Known Authors

Chris Stenton, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK Chris Stenton

David Hendrick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne David Hendrick

Jeremy Beach, University of Alberta Jeremy Beach

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Abstract

To clarify whether asthma may be caused by fume from welding mild steel and to evaluate the possible strength of such an effect, we quantified airway responsiveness among young shipyard workers with different levels of fume exposure. Clinical investigation comprised a cross-sectional survey of 19- to 27-yr-old workers who were completing 3 to 9 yr of employment in various trades, and a control group of 15- to 17-yr-old school leavers who were applying for apprenticeships within the same trades. Both groups were subdivided into negligible-, ambient-, or high-exposure subgroups according to expected levels of fume exposure. Actual exposures were assessed in a parallel environmental survey. Participants were investigated by questionnaire, skin prick tests, spirometry, and methacholine tests. Complete data sets were obtained from 1,024 of the 1,070 eligible subjects (96%). Among the workers but not the school leaver controls, there was an increasing prevalence of positive methacholine tests across the exposure subgroups-negligible 37%, ambient 44%, high 49% (p < 0.05). Regression analyses showed that in males after allowing for the effects of atopy, current smoking, and age, the estimated geometric mean level of airway responsiveness of regular welders was twice that of workers with negligible exposure after 5 yr of work. This implies that fume exposure may have been critical in causing asthma in about 1% of the welders. A lesser effect (though not significantly so) was noted among the workers with ambient exposure

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