Occupation and the prevalence of respiratory health symptoms and conditions: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study

J Occup Environ Med. 2012 Feb;54(2):157-65. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31823e3a52.


Objectives: To examine associations between occupation and respiratory health in a large, population-based cohort of adults in the United States.

Methods: Data from 15,273 participants, aged 45 to 64 years, in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study were used to examine associations of current or most recent job held with the prevalence of self-reported chronic cough, chronic bronchitis, wheezing, asthma, and measures of lung function collected by spirometry.

Results: Eleven percent of participants reported wheezing and 9% were classified as having airway obstruction. Compared with individuals in managerial and administrative jobs, increased prevalences of respiratory outcomes were observed among participants in selected occupations, including construction and extractive trades (wheezing, prevalence ratio = 1.92, 95% confidence interval = 1.35, 2.73; airway obstruction, prevalence ratio = 1.31, 95% confidence interval = 1.05, 1.65).

Conclusions: Specific occupations are associated with adverse respiratory health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / epidemiology
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Bronchitis / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cough / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupations*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Risk
  • Spirometry
  • United States