Occupational Asthma Reference

Preller L, Doekes G, Heederik D, Vermeulen R, Vogelzang PF, Boleij, JS, Disinfectant use as a risk factor for atopic sensitization and symptoms consistent with asthma: an epidemiological study, Eur Respir J, 1996;9:1407-1413,

Keywords: disinfectant, oa, benzalkonium chloride, pig, farmer, endotoxin

Known Authors

Dick Heederik, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht Dick Heederik

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Exposure to some nonallergenic compounds has been shown to increase the risk of atopic sensitization and asthmatic symptoms. In order to gain more insight into the largely unknown aetiology of respiratory symptoms in pig farmers, we studied the role of nonallergic exposure. We evaluated associations between chronic respiratory symptoms, specific and total serum immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels, use of disinfectants, and endotoxin exposure levels in a population of 194 Dutch pig farmers. Atopic sensitization (defined as increased production of IgE to common allergens) was found to occur more frequently in farmers who used disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) (odds ratio (OR) 7.4; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.3-43.1). ORs for other disinfectants ranged 2.3-4.1 (NS). Atopic sensitization was not found to occur more frequently in farmers with a high endotoxin exposure. The use of disinfectants was only related to respiratory symptoms consistent with asthma in atopics. This is illustrated by the significantly elevated ORs for farmers with IgE to common allergens (house dust mite, grass pollen, birch pollen), and who used disinfectants containing QACs, in the total population and in a subgroup of the total population restricted according to bronchial hyperresponsiveness to histamine (symptomatics with a provocation dose of histamine producing a > or = 10% decrease in forced expiratory volume in one second (PC10) < or = 16 mg.mL-1, compared with asymptomatics with a PC10 > 16 mg.mL-1) (OR 4.4, 95% CI 1.3-14.6; and OR 8.2, 95% CI 1.6-42.6, respectively). Atopy and use of QACs and endotoxin exposure level taken individually were not associated with respiratory symptoms. A combination of atopic sensitization and high endotoxin exposure (> 101 ng.m-3) was strongly associated with respiratory symptoms in the restricted population (OR 6.1; 95% CI 1.0-36.2). Our results suggest that occupational exposure to nonallergenic agents (disinfectants) may induce immunoglobulin E sensitization to common aeroallergens, and that the combination of atopy and exposure to nonallergenic agents (disinfectants and endotoxin) is an important risk factor for development of symptoms consistent with asthma

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