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Respiratory symptoms and obstructive lung diseases in iron ore miners: report from the obstructive lung disease in northern Sweden studies.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Enviromental Medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Enviromental Medicine.
2004 (English)In: European Journal of Epidemiology, ISSN 0393-2990, E-ISSN 1573-7284, Vol. 19, no 10, 953-958 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This is a population-based study on the prevalence of respiratory symptoms assessed by a mail questionnaire. The objective was to examine if work in an iron mine increased the risk of airway symptoms or obstructive diseases. The exposed group consisted of 114 previous or current male miners. Referents, 2472 males from the province, had never been employed by the mining company or worked as miners. Age, smoking and a family history of asthma were considered as possible confounders. The miners had an increased risk for respiratory symptoms (OR=2.2, 95% CI=1.4-3.1) including recurrent wheeze (OR= 2.4, 95% CI= 1.5-3.9), longstanding cough (OR= 1.8, 95% CI = 1.0-3.2), and for physician-diagnosed chronic bronchitis (OR=2.2, 95% CI= 1.0-4.5). Attacks of shortness of breath and asthma manifestations were similar between miners and referents. Higher risks in miners were found particularly among the non-smokers for physician-diagnosed chronic bronchitis (OR=9.2, 95% CI= 3.0-28) and for symptoms as well. A family history of asthma was less common among miners (9.2% vs. 17%, p < 0.05). We conclude that miners in a modern underground iron mine had an increased risk of respiratory symptoms. In contrast to other studies, this increased risk was particularly found in nonsmokers. A family history of asthma may be an important confounder in occupational studies of respiratory diseases.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 19, no 10, 953-958 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-18811DOI: 10.1007/s10654-004-5194-7PubMedID: 15575354OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-18811DiVA: diva2:174832
Available from: 2009-02-25 Created: 2009-02-25 Last updated: 2017-12-13
In thesis
1. Occupational air pollutants and non-malignant respiratory disorders especially in miners: thesis IX
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Occupational air pollutants and non-malignant respiratory disorders especially in miners: thesis IX
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aim. To assess associations between occupational air pollution and respiratory health, especially in miners.

Background. Indications of associations between occupational exposure or social economic status and respiratory health have been found in several population-based studies. However, there have been few longitudinal studies of the putative correlations, the effects of environmental and genetic factors have seldom been simultaneously studied, and studies of miners have generated conflicting results.

Material and methods. Population-based Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden (OLIN) cohorts surveyed in 1986, 1992 and 1996, and two industry-based materials, were used in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Inflammatory markers were compared in sputa from miners after a vacation of at least four weeks, after repeated occupational exposures for at least three months, and controls. The mortality from silicosis was studied in 7729 miners with at least 1 year of exposure. Multivariate analyses were used to adjust for confounders.

Results. Up to about 30-40% (etiologic fraction) of incident symptoms in persons both with and without a family history of asthma (FHA) could be explained by exposure to occupational air pollution. Low socio-economic status (SES) was associated with impaired respiratory health. Population attributable risks for most examined disorders were about 10%. Current and ex-miners had increased prevalence of recurrent wheeze, longstanding cough, physician-diagnosed chronic bronchitis, and a trend for increased sputum production. For physician-diagnosed chronic bronchitis a multiplicative interaction was found between exposure and smoking habits. Ex-miners that had been exposed for on average 13 years and whose exposure had ceased 16 years before the study had an increased prevalence of physician-diagnosed chronic bronchitis and chronic productive cough and a trend to increased use of asthma medicines.

Miners exposed underground for 18 years, on average, to diesel exhaust (with 0.28 mg/m3 nitrogen dioxide and 27 μg/m3 elemental carbon on average, EC) and particles (3.2 mg/m3 inhalable dust on average) had signs of higher inflammatory activity in their airways, i.e. significantly higher frequencies of macrophages, neutrophils, and total cells compared with referents. The activity in miners was similar after a vacation of at least four weeks and after repeated exposures for three months.

There were 58 deaths from silicosis (underlying and contributing cause of death) and a clear dose-response relationship. The data indicated an increased risk of severe silicosis after long-term exposure to 0.1 mg/m3 respirable quartz, the current maximum allowable concentration (MAC) in Sweden and many other countries.

Conclusion. Occupational exposure to dust, gases, and fumes impaired respiratory health, accounting for up to 30-40% of some respiratory symptoms in the general population. Low socio-economic status was associated with impaired respiratory health. The complex profiles of dust and diesel exhaust substances found in mines may cause inflammatory reactions in their lungs and persistent respiratory symptoms in occupationally exposed miners. Long-term exposure to quartz at the present MAC level may cause severe silicosis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Yrkes- och miljömedicin, 2008. 80 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1159
Keyword
respiratory symptoms, occupational epidemiology, mining, asthma, airway inflammation, dust, diesel exhaust, quartz, chronic bronchitis, silicosis
Research subject
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1591 (URN)978-91-7264-510-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-04-11, Sal B, 1D, NUS, Umeå, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Available from: 2008-03-20 Created: 2008-03-20 Last updated: 2011-03-23Bibliographically approved

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