The relation of respiratory symptoms and ventilatory function to moderate occupational exposure in a general population. Results from the French PAARC study of 16,000 adults

Int J Epidemiol. 1988 Jun;17(2):397-406. doi: 10.1093/ije/17.2.397.


Data from the French PAARC (Pollution Atmosphérique et Affections Respiratoires Chroniques) study were used to assess the effect of a priori moderate occupational exposure to dust, gases or chemical fumes on the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and ventilatory function. In this community-based population, without households 'headed' by manual workers, 34% of the 8692 men and 23% of the 7772 women, 25-59 years of age, ever occupationally active, reported some exposure. The studied relationships were adjusted for age, height, smoking habits, socio-occupational class, education and air pollution by logistic or linear regression methods. For men and women, some 50% increase (p less than 0.01) in chronic cough, chronic bronchitis, dyspnoea grade 2 and wheezing prevalence was observed in the exposed group compared to the never exposed, with the strongest association for wheezing. FEV1 and FEF25-75% were not associated with occupational exposure. Among men, FEV1/FVC and FEF25-75%/FVC were significantly lower (p less than 0.001 and p less than 0.05) among the exposed compared to never exposed, but FVC was significantly greater (p less than 0.05). Among women, occupational exposure was significantly related to a lower FEV1/FVC in the subgroup with a history of asthma or wheezing. Results suggest that occupational exposures of relatively low intensity, encountered in the non-industrial work places may constitute a non-negligible risk for respiratory health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchitis / etiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cough / etiology*
  • Dyspnea / etiology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maximal Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Maximal Midexpiratory Flow Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupations
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Vital Capacity