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The paper published in this issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine by Slager et al entitled “Rhinitis associated with pesticide exposure among commercial pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study” (see page 718) draws attention to several important issues concerning occupational rhinitis1: first, the presumably high prevalence of occupational rhinitis in high risk occupations; second, the growing interest in studying this respiratory condition; and third, some of the difficulties for researchers conducting epidemiological and clinical studies investigating occupational rhinitis due to the lack of standardised and consensus definition and classification of this disease.
Cross-sectional studies have demonstrated the frequent occurrence of nasal symptoms in workers exposed to diverse high and low molecular weight agents.2 However, there is great variability in prevalence rates of occupational rhinitis across studies. Since rhinitis is a complex respiratory disease in which environmental and genetic factors may be involved, the observed variability in disease frequency may reflect different influences, including the use of different criteria to define the disease.3 …
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