Solvents are used in many workplaces and may be airway irritants but few studies have examined their association with asthma. We studied this question in CONSTANCES (cohort of 'CONSulTANts des Centres d'Examens de Santé'), a large French cohort. Current asthma and asthma symptom scores were defined by participant-reported respiratory symptoms, asthma medication or attacks, and the sum of 5 symptoms, in the past 12 months, respectively. Lifetime exposures to 5 organic solvents, paints and inks were assessed by questionnaire and a population-based Job-Exposure Matrix (JEM). Cross-sectional associations between exposures and outcomes were evaluated by gender using logistic and negative binomial regressions adjusted for age, smoking habits and body mass index. Analyses included 115,757 adults (54% women, mean age 47 years, 9% current asthma). Self-reported exposure to ≥1 solvent was significantly associated with current asthma in men and women, whereas using the JEM, a significant association was observed only in women. Significant associations between exposures to ≥1 solvent and asthma symptom score were observed for both self-report (mean score ratio, 95%CI, women: 1.36, 1.31-1.42; men: 1.34, 1.30-1.40) and JEM (women: 1.10, 1.07-1.15; men: 1.14, 1.09-1.18). Exposure to specific solvents was significantly associated with higher asthma symptom score. Occupational exposure to solvents should be systematically sought when caring for asthma.
Keywords: asthma symptom score; current asthma; job-exposure matrix; occupational exposure; population-based cohort; solvents.