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Rhinitis and asthma symptoms in non-domestic cleaners from the São Paulo metropolitan area, Brazil
  1. Elayne de Fátima Maçãira,
  2. Eduardo Algranti,
  3. Elizabete Medina Coeli Mendonça,
  4. Marco Antônio Bussacos
  1. Division of Medicine - FUNDACENTRO, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to:
 MsE de Fátima Maçãira
 Division of Medicine - FUNDACENTRO, Rua Capote Valente, 710, São Paulo-SP, Brazil, CEP: 05409-002; elayne{at}


Background: Exposure to cleaning products has frequently been reported as a symptom trigger by workers with work-related asthma diagnosed in workers’ health clinics in the city of São Paulo, Brazil.

Objectives: To estimate rhinitis and asthma symptoms prevalence and to analyse associated risk factors.

Method: A respiratory symptoms questionnaire (Medical Research Council 1976) and the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire were applied to 341 cleaners working in the city of São Paulo, along with obtaining full occupational histories, skin prick tests and spirometry. Timing their symptoms onset in relation to occupational history allowed estimation of work-related asthma and/or rhinitis. Risk factors related to selected outcomes were analysed by logistic regression.

Results: 11% and 35% of the cleaners had asthma and rhinitis, respectively. The risk of work-related asthma/rhinitis increased with years of employment in non-domestic cleaning (OR 1.09, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.18, >0.92–3 years; OR 1.28, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.63, >3–6.5 years; OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.89, >6.5 years). Atopy was associated with asthma and rhinitis (OR 2.91, 95% CI 1.36 to 6.71; OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.28 to 3.35, respectively). There was a higher risk of rhinitis in women (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.20 to 3.70).

Conclusions: Cleaning workers are at risk of contracting work-related asthma and/or rhinitis, and the risk increases with years of employment in non-domestic cleaning. Women present higher risk of rhinitis than men.

  • ECRHS, European Community Respiratory Health Survey
  • FVC, forced vital capacity
  • FEV1, forced expiratory volume in one second. ISAAC, International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood

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  • Published Online First 15 February 2007

  • Competing interests: None declared.