Asthma and respiratory symptoms among hairdressers in Denmark: results from a register based questionnaire study

Am J Ind Med. 2014 Dec;57(12):1368-76. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22390. Epub 2014 Oct 28.


Background: Hairdressers are at risk of developing occupational respiratory disorders due to persulfates and other hairdressing chemicals.

Methods: A register based questionnaire study comprising 7,840 graduates from hairdressing vocational schools was conducted. The postal questionnaire concerned self-reported asthma, airway symptoms, occupation, smoking, and atopic dermatitis.

Results: A response rate of 67.9% was obtained. The hairdressers reported asthma (11.2%), cough (25.3%), nasal congestion (24.0%), and rhinitis (18.2%). Less than 1/3 of all hairdressers with suspected occupational asthma reported their asthma as an occupational disease to the authorities. In total, 27.3% were daily smokers; the smoking pattern was similar between hairdressers with and without asthma. Local exhaust ventilation was only used consistently by 63.8% for permanent waving and hair coloring procedures.

Conclusions: Asthma and especially respiratory symptoms were commonly reported by hairdressers, but rarely reported as an occupational disease. Local exhaust ventilation was inconsistently used. Our results underline the need for improved measures to ascertain and prevent occupational asthma in hairdressers.

Keywords: asthma; hairdressers; occupational exposure; respiratory tract symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Dyspnea / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ventilation / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult