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Nursing, Other Occupations Linked to Adult Asthma

Risk higher after inhalation accidents

FRIDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial number of adult asthma cases are due to occupational exposure, particularly in nursing, or inhalation accidents such as fire or chemical spills, according to a study in the July 28 issue of The Lancet.

Josep M. Anto, M.D., from the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues examined the risk of new-onset asthma in 6,837 adults in 13 countries based on occupation, work-related exposures, and inhalation accidents.

The researchers found a significantly higher risk of asthma in those exposed to substances known to cause occupational asthma (relative risk, 1.6), nurses (relative risk, 2.2), and those exposed to acute inhalation events such as fire, mixing cleaning products, or chemical spills. Occupational exposures accounted for a population-attributable risk of asthma of 10 percent to 25 percent, or 250 to 300 cases per million people per year, the authors estimated.

The study "is a welcome contribution that provides a better estimate of the frequency of asthma attributable to occupational agents," Jean-Luc Malo, M.D., and Denyse Gautrin, Ph.D., from Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

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