Occupational Asthma Reference

Li RWH, Lipszyc JC, Prasad S, Tarlo SM., Work-related asthma from cleaning agents versus other agents., Occup Med, 2018;68:587-592,10.1093/occmed/kqy137

Keywords: Canada, cleaner, work-related asthma, OA,

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Susan Tarlo, Toronto Susan Tarlo

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Cleaning agents have been commonly implicated as causative or triggering factors in work-related asthma (WRA), mainly from epidemiologic studies. Relatively few clinical series have been reported.

We aimed to compare socio-demographic and clinical features among tertiary clinic patients with WRA exposed to cleaning and non-cleaning products.

Analyses were conducted on a patient database containing 208 patients with probable WRA referred to the asthma and airway centre at a tertiary centre hospital in Canada from 2000 to 2014. Chi-squared and independent samples t-tests were used to analyse categorical and continuous data, respectively.

Twenty-two (11%) WRA cases were attributed to a variety of cleaning product exposures, 12 were diagnosed as occupational asthma (OA) and 10 as work-exacerbated asthma (WEA) (10% of all OA and 11% of all WEA). There were multiple exposures and the responsible agent(s) could seldom be clearly identified. Most frequent categories of exposure were surfactants, alcohols, disinfectants and acids. Compared to WRA with other exposures, those with cleaning agent exposures had a significantly larger proportion of females (82 versus 35%, P < 0.001), included a higher percentage of workers in healthcare (41 versus 4%, P < 0.001), and submitted more workers' compensation claims (86 versus 64%, P = 0.05). Other characteristics were comparable.

In a tertiary referral clinic, patients with WRA from cleaning agent exposure had clinical characteristics that were similar to those with WRA from other causes. Most frequent exposures were surfactants, alcohols, disinfectants and acids.

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