Occupational exposure ups risk of nonmalignant respiratory conditions
Exposure to inhalational hazards at the workplace is a substantial contributor to the adult burden of nonmalignant lung conditions, a recent study has found.
Accessing the databases of Pubmed and Embase, researchers identified relevant literature for different respiratory conditions. Population-attributable fractions (PAF) were calculated in cases with sufficient data. Otherwise, the occupational burden of disease was estimated using incidence rate ratios or attributable fractions within an exposed group.
Nine longitudinal studies were eligible for the analysis of asthma burden. Pooled evaluation of these reports revealed that the occupational contribution to incident asthma had a PAF of 16 percent (95 percent CI, 10–22). However, researchers noted that sex-stratified analyses are few in number, most of which report lower PAF estimates for females.
In comparison, 26 studies were pooled for the determination of the contribution of occupational exposure to the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The obtained PAF in the overall population was 14 percent, though this was much higher among never-smokers (six studies; PAF, 31 percent).
Seven studies were included in the analysis of chronic bronchitis burden, which showed that the pooled PAF due to occupational exposure was 13 percent.
For idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), 11 studies emerged eligible for the pooled analysis. Disaggregating according to exposure categories, researchers found that agricultural work was not significantly associated with IPF (odds ratio, 1.6, 95 percent CI, 0.8–3.0; PAF, 4 percent).
On the other hand, occupational exposure to silica (PAF, 3 percent), wood dusts (PAF, 4 percent), metal dusts or fumes (PAF, 8 percent), and vapour, gas, dust or fumes (PAF, 26 percent) were all significant contributors to the burden of IPF.