Occupational Asthma Reference
Hollander A, Heederik D, Brunekreef B,
Work-Related Changes In Peak Expiratory Flow Among Laboratory Animal Workers,
Eur Respir J,
Laboratory animal workers are at risk of developing allergic symptoms, of which asthmatic symptoms are the most severe. The aim was to study the relationship between allergic symptoms due to working with rats and variability and changes in peak expiratory flow (PEF). Several indices were used on the basis of the amplitude of the PEF or the differences in PEF between days with and without exposure to rat aeroallergens. Of the 398 rat workers, 73% completed PEF readings on at least 9 days, of whom 208 had PEF readings on working days with and without contact with animals. The overall prevalence rate of allergic symptoms (asthmatic, eye, nose and/or skin) among rat workers during the handling of rats was 17.3%. Asthmatic symptoms were reported by 6.7%. The PEF of the workers who reported asthmatic symptoms due to working with rats decreased significantly on days working with the animals (difference between the minimum PEF averaged over working days with animals and over days without animals (deltaPEFmin-min) = -73 L x min(-1)), compared to the workers without symptoms (2.2 L x min(-1)). This effect was more pronounced among workers with a late asthmatic response, i.e. the presence of asthmatic symptoms several hours after working with rats (deltaPEFmin-min = -11.6 L x min(-1)). Multiple regression analyses showed that only those with asthmatic symptoms several hours after working with rats and those with allergic symptoms had an increased deltaPEFmin-min. In addition, workers with asthmatic symptoms were also more likely to have a higher PEF variability than workers without asthmatic symptoms. However, no difference in PEF variability between days with and without animals contact was observed. This study shows that the peak expiratory flow of workers who reported asthmatic symptoms due to working with rats decreased significantly on days working with laboratory animals.
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