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Document ID (ISN)112466
CIS number 12-0190
ISSN - Serial title 1351-0711 - Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Year 2010
Convention or series no.
Author(s) Abramson M.J., Benke G.P., Cui J., de Klerk N.H., Del Monaco A., Dennekamp M., Fritschi L., Musk A.W., Sim M.R.
Title Is potroom asthma due more to sulphur dioxide than fluoride? An inception cohort study in the Australian aluminium industry
Bibliographic information Oct. 2010, Vol.67, No.10, p.679-685. Illus. 30 ref.
Internet access Is_potroom_asthma_[BUY_THIS_ARTICLE] [in English]
Abstract Although an asthma-like syndrome has been recognized in aluminium smelter workers for over 70 years, the causal agent has been difficult to identify. An inception cohort study was conducted at two Australian aluminium smelters where 446 employees participated over a period of nine years. Cumulative exposures between interviews were estimated from job histories using a task exposure matrix based on measurements in the smelters. Participants completed an MRC respiratory questionnaire, spirometry and methacholine challenge test. Data were analyzed with generalized estimating equations to allow for repeated measurements of each participant. Wheeze and chest tightness, the two symptoms most closely related to asthma, showed associations with occupational exposures. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) exposure was significantly associated with these symptoms, bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR) to methacholine (a feature of asthma), airflow limitation (reduced one-second forced expiratory volume/forced vital capacity ratio) and longitudinal decline in lung function. Fluoride exposure was associated with the same outcomes, but less strongly. Inhalable dust and the benzene soluble fraction (BSF) were associated with symptoms of asthma and BHR. Although many of the exposures were highly correlated, further modelling suggested that of the known respiratory irritants, SO2 was more likely than fluoride to be primarily responsible for the symptoms observed. Fluoride, inhalable dust and SO2 were the most important airborne contaminants associated with effects on lung function. The observed effects were detected at contaminant levels within occupational exposure standards, so further reductions are required, particularly in SO2 exposures.
Descriptors (primary) fluorides; sulfur dioxide; asthma; pulmonary function; aluminium industry; risk factors
Descriptors (secondary) Australia; irritants; allergic reactivity; spirometry; cohort study; statistical evaluation
Document type D - Periodical articles
Subject(s) Metal production and metalworking
Occupational pathology
Broad subject area(s) Occupational medicine, epidemiology
Browse category(ies) Diseases of the respiratory system (except for pneumoconiosis & similar)
Smelting and refining operations