Adult-onset asthma and occupational exposures

Scand J Work Environ Health. 1999 Oct;25(5):430-5. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.456.


Objectives: This study examined certain occupational exposures and the risk for adult-onset asthma.

Methods: A nested case-referent study of adult-onset asthma was performed on a random population sample (N=15813), aged 21 to 51 years. Cases for the study included 2 groups: subjects reporting "physician-diagnosed" asthma (N=251) and a broader "asthma" group (N=362). The "asthma" group consisted of subjects with "physician-diagnosed" asthma (N=251) and subjects reporting asthma-like symptoms without having "physician-diagnosed" asthma (N=111). The referents (N=2044) were randomly selected from the whole population sample. The case-referent sample was investigated with a comprehensive questionnaire about occupational exposures, asthma, respiratory symptoms, smoking, and atopy. Odds ratios were calculated with stratification for gender, year of diagnosis, and birth year.

Results: The highest odds ratio for "physician-diagnosed" asthma was associated with exposure to flour dust [odds ratio (OR) 2.8, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.5-5.2] and the occupational handling of resin-based paints (isocyanates) (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.6-5.9). Exposure to welding fumes, textile dust, and work with glues containing acrylates was also associated with an increased odds ratio for "physician-diagnosed" asthma. Including persons with asthma-like symptoms (ie, the asthma group) showed similar results.

Conclusion: This population-based case-referent study from Sweden indicates that occupational exposure to acrylate-based compounds and welding fumes is associated with increased risk for adult-onset asthma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age of Onset*
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / adverse effects
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / classification*
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dust / adverse effects
  • Dust / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Dust