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Occupational exposure to solvents and lung function decline:a population based study


Alif, SM and Dharmage, S and Benke, G and Dennekamp, M and Burgess, J and Perret, JL and Lodge, C and Morrison, S and Johns, DP and Giles, G and Gurrin, L and Thomas, PS and Hopper, JL and Wood-Baker, R and Thompson, B and Feather, I and Vermeulen, R and Kromhout, H and Jarvis, D and Garcia Aymerich, J and Walters, EH and Abramson, MJ and Matheson, MC, Occupational exposure to solvents and lung function decline:a population based study, Thorax, 74, (7) pp. 650-658. ISSN 0040-6376 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-212267


Rationale: While cross-sectional studies have shown associations between certain occupational exposures and lower levels of lung function, there was little evidence from population-based studies with repeated lung function measurements.

Objectives: We aimed to investigate the associations between occupational exposures and longitudinal lung function decline in the population-based Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study.

Methods: Lung function decline between ages 45 years and 50 years was assessed using data from 767 participants. Using lifetime work history calendars completed at age 45 years, exposures were assigned according to the ALOHA plus Job Exposure Matrix. Occupational exposures were defined as ever exposed and cumulative exposure -unit- years. We investigated effect modification by sex, smoking and asthma status.

Results: Compared with those without exposure, ever exposures to aromatic solvents and metals were associated with a greater decline in FEV1 (aromatic solvents 15.5 mL/year (95% CI −24.8 to 6.3); metals 11.3 mL/year (95% CI −21.9 to 0.7)) and FVC (aromatic solvents 14.1 mL/year 95% CI −28.8 to 0.7; metals 17.5 mL/year (95% CI 34.3 to 0.8)). Cumulative exposure (unit years) to aromatic solvents was also associated with greater decline in FEV1 and FVC. Women had lower cumulative exposure years to aromatic solvents than men (mean (SD) 9.6 (15.5) vs 16.6 (14.6)), but greater lung function decline than men. We also found association between ever exposures to gases/fumes or mineral dust and greater decline in lung function.

Conclusions: Exposures to aromatic solvents and metals were associated with greater lung function decline. The effect of aromatic solvents was strongest in women. Preventive strategies should be implemented to reduce these exposures in the workplace.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:occupational exposure, lung function
Research Division:Indigenous Studies
Research Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing
Research Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health and wellbeing
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Neonatal and child health
UTAS Author:Johns, DP (Associate Professor David Johns)
UTAS Author:Wood-Baker, R (Professor Richard Wood-Baker)
ID Code:133686
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:National Health and Medical Research Council (1021275)
Web of Science® Times Cited:15
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2019-07-05
Last Modified:2020-08-17

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