Rationale: New Orleans residents and workers have had exposures to bioaerosols and other noxious contaminants left by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina. In a longitudinal study to examine associations between work in and around flood-damaged structures and the risks of respiratory illness, baseline findings are presented. Methods: Spirometry was performed on 594 participants who worked for various public and private institutions, or were private residents of the New Orleans area, with some restoring/remediating their own homes. Administered questionnaire included information on respiratory health, smoking history, and pre- and post-Katrina work and occupation. Any time since Katrina spent in demolition, trash removal, landscape restoration, sewer line repair, or mold remediation ("dirty jobs") was taken as indicating exposure to flood-related contaminants. An interview question about transient fever and cough at the end of a workday was used as an indicator of possible hypersensitivity or toxic reaction. Multiple linear regression was used to relate percent predicted (%P) FEV1, FVC and FEV1/FVC to exposure, after adjusting for smoking category. Results: 74% of study participants reported time spent in at least one of the dirty jobs. The table shows that significant differences between exposed and nonexposed subjects were observed for %P FEV1 for current smokers and for %P FEV1/FVC for ex- and never smokers. 31% of study participants reported at least one episode of transient fever/cough since Katrina, and a significantly increased risk was observed with dirty jobs (RR =1.51, p = 0.007, CI: 1.10-2.09). This association was also observed in ex- and never smokers (RR = 1.78, p = 0.003, CI: 1.19-2.67), but not in current smokers (RR = 1.07, p=.80, CI: 0.64-1.7796). No significant differences in %P FEV1, FVC and FEV1/FVC were observed between subjects with and without fever/cough. Conclusions: Baseline symptoms and lung function data may be reflecting inhalant exposures to contaminants left in the wake of flooding from Hurricane Katrina.
Airborne-particles; Allergens; Bacterial-dusts; Bacteriology; Biological-effects; Biological-monitoring; Breathing; Cytotoxic-effects; Diseases; Dust-analysis; Dust-exposure; Dust-inhalation; Dust-measurement; Dust-particles; Dusts; Dust-sampling; Environmental-contamination; Environmental-exposure; Environmental-factors; Environmental-hazards; Environmental-pollution; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-methods; Fumes; Inhalation-studies; Lung; Lung-burden; Lung-disease; Lung-disorders; Lung-function; Lung-irritants; Microscopic-analysis; Occupational-diseases; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Occupational-respiratory-disease; Particle-aerodynamics; Particulate-dust; Particulates; Public-health; Pulmonary-congestion; Pulmonary-disorders; Pulmonary-system; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Quantitative-analysis; Questionnaires; Respirable-dust; Respiratory-hypersensitivity; Respiratory-infections; Respiratory-irritants; Respiratory-system-disorders; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Smoking; Spirometry; Statistical-analysis; Tobacco; Toxic-effects; Work-areas; Work-environment; Worker-health; Work-operations; Work-performance; Workplace-monitoring; Workplace-studies