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Occupational exposures and asthma among nursing professionals.

Arif-AA; Delclos-GL; Serra-C
Occup Environ Med 2009 Apr; 66(4):274-278
OBJECTIVES: To identify occupational exposure risk factors associated with the development of new-onset asthma in nurses. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was administered to a sample of licensed Texas nurses (response rate 70%) and compared to three other healthcare professional groups. Nursing professionals were defined based on self-reported longest held job. Outcome variables were physician-diagnosed new-onset asthma after entry into the healthcare profession and symptoms associated with bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR). Occupational exposures were ascertained through a job-exposure matrix, grouped into four categories: cleaning-related tasks, use of powdered latex gloves, administration of aerosolised medications, and tasks involving adhesive compounds, glues and/or solvents. RESULTS: After adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, atopy, smoking, body mass index and seniority, reported asthma was significantly greater among nursing professionals involved in medical instrument cleaning (OR = 1.67, 95% CI 1.06 to 2.62) and exposure to general cleaning products and disinfectants (OR = 1.72, 95% CI 1.00 to 2.94). Use of powdered latex gloves during 1992-2000 was associated with 1.6 times (95% CI 1.01 to 2.50) the odds of reported asthma. In univariate analysis, exposure to adhesives, glues and/or solvents was associated with a twofold increase in the odds of reported asthma, but not after adjustment for covariates. Similarly, the odds of BHR-related symptoms were significantly greater among nursing professionals exposed to general cleaning products and disinfectants (OR = 1.57, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.21) and adhesives, glues and/or solvents used in patient care (OR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.12). CONCLUSION: Among nursing professionals, workplace exposures to cleaning products and disinfectants increase the risk of new-onset asthma.
Allergies; Allergens; Allergic-reactions; Biological-effects; Biological-factors; Bronchial-asthma; Chemical-hypersensitivity; Chemical-properties; Cleaning-compounds; Dusts; Dust-particles; Dust-exposure; Disinfectants; Epidemiology; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-methods; Gloves; Health-care-personnel; Medical-personnel; Medicinal-chemicals; Medical-personnel; Medical-rescue-services; Medical-research; Medical-surveys; Nursing; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-health-nursing; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Work-environment; Work-performance; Work-practices; Worker-health
Dr Ahmed A Arif, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Health and Human Services, 9201 University City Blvd, CHHS Building 429, Charlotte, NC 28223
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-003945; Grant-Number-T42-CCT-610417
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Disease and Injury: Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Source Name
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Performing Organization
University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division