This study examined data from three cross sectional surveys of 296 laboratory workers exposed to small mammals. Four indices of laboratory animal allergy were studied: symptoms suggestive of occupational asthma, symptoms suggestive of any occupational allergy, skin weals to animal urine extracts, and serum binding in radioallergosorbent tests with urine extracts. Pooled data from the three surveys showed an association between smoking and all indices except radioallergosorbent tests; the association was significant for symptoms of occupational asthma. One of the three surveys consistently showed a stronger association of allergy indices with smoking than with atopy (defined on skin tests with non-animal aeroallergens). Associations with smoking persisted after stratifying by atopic status, suggesting that smoking may be a risk factor for laboratory animal allergy.
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