Occupational Asthma Reference

Szram J, Schofield SJ, Cosgrove MP, Cullinan P, Welding, longitudinal lung function decline and chronic respiratory symptoms: a systematic review of cohort studies, Eur Respir J, 2013;42:1186-1193,

Keywords: welding, systematic review, FEV1 decline,

Known Authors

Paul Cullinan, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK Paul Cullinan

Joanna Szram, Royal Brompton Hospital Joanna Szram

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While the acute respiratory risks of welding are well characterised, more chronic effects, including those on lung function, are less clear. We carried out a systematic review of published longitudinal studies of lung function decline in welders.

Original cohort studies documenting two or more sequential measurements of lung function were reviewed. Meta-analysis was carried out on studies with suitable data on forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1).

Seven studies were included; their quality (measured on the Newcastle–Ottawa scale) was good, although exposure assessment was limited and the studies showed significant heterogeneity. Five had data suitable for meta-analysis; the pooled estimate of the difference in FEV1 decline between welders and nonwelders was -9.0 mL·year-1 (95% CI -22.5–4.5; p=0.193). The pooled estimates of difference in annual FEV1 decline between welders and referents who smoked was -13.7 mL·year-1 (95% CI -33.6–6.3; p=0.179). For welders and referents who did not smoke the estimated difference was -3.8 mL·year-1 (95% CI -20.2–12.6; p=0.650). Symptom prevalence data were mainly narrative; smoking appeared to have the greatest effect on symptom evolution.

Collectively, available longitudinal data on decline of lung function in welders and respiratory symptoms suggest a greater effect in those who smoke, supporting a focus on smoking cessation as well as control of fume exposure in this trade. Further prospective studies are required to confirm these findings.

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