Spirometric abnormalities associated with chronic bronchitis, asthma, and airway hyperresponsiveness among boilermaker construction workers.
Hauser-R; Eisen-EA; Pothier-L; Lewis-D; Bledsoe-T; Christiani-DC
Chest 2002 Jun; 121(6):2052-2060
In a 2-year longitudinal study of boilermaker construction workers, we found a significant association between working at oil-fired, coal-fired, and gas-fired industries during the past year and reduced lung function. In the present study, we investigated whether chronic bronchitis, asthma, or baseline methacholine airway responsiveness can explain the heterogeneity in lung function response to boilermaker work. This study is part of an ongoing prospective cohort study of boilermakers. Exposure was assessed with a work history questionnaire. Spirometry was performed annually to assess lung function. A generalized estimating equation approach was used to account for the repeated-measures design. One hundred eighteen boilermakers participated in the study. Self-reported history of chronic bronchitis and asthma were associated with a larger FEV1 reduction in response to workplace exposure at coal-fired and gas-fired industries. Although we found a high prevalence (39%) of airway hyperresponsiveness (provocative concentration of methacholine causing a 20% fall in FEV1 of < 8 mg/mL) among boilermakers, we did not find a consistent pattern of effect modification by airway responsiveness. Although chronic bronchitis and asthma were associated with a greater loss in lung function in response to hours worked as a boilermaker, and therefore they acted as effect modifiers of the exposure-lung function relationship, airway hyperresponsiveness did not. However, the high prevalence of airway hyperresponsiveness found in the cohort may be a primary consequence of long-term workplace exposure among boilermakers.
Spirometry; Bronchial-asthma; Airway-obstruction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Lung-function; Occupational-health; Respiratory-system-disorders; Exposure-levels; Questionnaires
Russ Hauser, MD, ScD, MPH, Harvard School of Public Health, Occupational Health Program, 665 Huntington Ave, Building I, Room 1405, Boston, MA
Harvard University, Boston, MA