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Occupational risk factors for asthma among nurses and related healthcare professionals in an international study
  1. Maria C Mirabelli1,
  2. Jan-Paul Zock1,
  3. Estel Plana1,
  4. Josep Maria Antó1,2,
  5. Geza Benke3,
  6. Paul D Blanc4,
  7. Anna Dahlman-Höglund5,
  8. Deborah L Jarvis6,
  9. Hans Kromhout7,
  10. Linnéa Lillienberg5,
  11. Dan Norbäck8,
  12. Mario Olivieri9,
  13. Katja Radon10,
  14. Jordi Sunyer1,2,
  15. Kjell Torén11,
  16. Marc van Sprundel12,
  17. Simona Villani13,
  18. Manolis Kogevinas14
  1. 1Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Municipal Institute of Medical Research, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Department of Experimental and Health Sciences, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, California, USA
  5. 5Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden
  6. 6Respiratory Epidemiology and Public Health Group, National Heart and Lung Insititute, Imperial College, London, UK
  7. 7Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Environmental Epidemiology Division, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  8. 8Department of Medical Sciences, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University and University Hospital, Sweden
  9. 9Unit of Occupational Medicine, University of Verona, Italy
  10. 10Unit for Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology & NetTeaching, Institute for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
  11. 11Department of Allergology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden
  12. 12Department Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  13. 13Section of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences, University of Pavia, Italy
  14. 14Department of Social Medicine, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M C Mirabelli
 Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Instituto Municipal de Investigación Médica, c/Dr Aiguader, 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; mmirabelli{at}


Objective: The authors examined the relations between self-reported work tasks, use of cleaning products and latex glove use with new-onset asthma among nurses and other healthcare workers in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS II).

Methods: In a random population sample of adults from 22 European sites, 332 participants reported working in nursing and other related healthcare jobs during the nine-year ECRHS II follow-up period and responded to a supplemental questionnaire about their principal work settings, occupational tasks, products used at work and respiratory symptoms. Poisson regression models with robust error variances were used to compare the risk of new-onset asthma among healthcare workers with each exposure to that of respondents who reported professional or administrative occupations during the entire follow-up period (n = 2481).

Results: Twenty (6%) healthcare workers and 131 (5%) members of the referent population reported new-onset asthma. Compared to the referent group, the authors observed increased risks among hospital technicians (RR 4.63; 95% CI 1.87 to 11.5) and among those using ammonia and/or bleach at work (RR 2.16; 95% CI 1.03 to 4.53).

Conclusions: In the ECRHS II cohort, hospital technicians and other healthcare workers experience increased risks of new-onset current asthma, possibly due to specific products used at work.

  • ECRHS, European Community Respiratory Health Survey
  • ISCO, International Standard Classification of Occupations

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  • Published Online First 1 March 2007

  • The authors received funding from the European Commission Quality of Life programme (QLK4-CT-1999-01237), the EU Framework programme for research (FOOD-CT-2004-506378), and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) (1R01HL062633, 1F32ES014142). The contents of this manuscript are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the European Commission Quality of Life programme, the EU Framework programme for research or NIH.