The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for evaluation of a water-damaged office building which housed approximately 1300 employees. Workers reported respiratory conditions that they perceived to be building related. We hypothesized that these symptoms were associated with airways inflammation. To test this hypothesis, we assessed airways inflammation in employees using exhaled breath condensate (EBC) and the fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FENO). In September 2001, a health questionnaire was offered to all employees. Based on this questionnaire, NIOSH invited 356 symptomatic and asymptomatic employees to participate in a medical survey. In June 2002, these employees were offered questionnaire, spirometry, methacholine challenge test, allergen skin prick testing, EBC and FENO. FENO or EBC were completed by 239 participants. As smoking is highly related to the measurements that we used in this study, we included only the 207 current non-smokers in the analyses. EBC interleukin-8 (IL-8) levels, but not nitrite, were significantly higher among workers with respiratory symptoms and in the physician-diagnosed asthmatic group. Of the analyses assessed, EBC IL-8 showed the most significant relationship with a number of symptoms and physician-diagnosed asthma.
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