News Release 

Asthmatics working in dusty environments risk a trip to the hospital

Working in farming or the wood industry while suffering from asthma is not a good combination. This is because it increases the risk of being hospitalised again with asthma. This is shown by a new study from Aarhus University.

Aarhus University

Research News

Working in farming or the wood industry while suffering from asthma is not a good combination. This is because it increases the risk of being hospitalised again with asthma. This is shown by a new study from Aarhus University.

Farmers and people who process wood should preferably not suffer from asthma. If they do, they are even more vulnerable while at work. For the first time, a new study from Aarhus University has examined whether working in farming and the wood industry - in occupations with dust exposure - increases the risk of renewed contact with the hospital system if the person has asthma or the lung disease COPD.

This is clearly the case for asthma, while it is uncertain whether the same is true for COPD, explains Vivi Schlünssen, who is one of the researchers behind the study. The risk of renewed contact with a hospital is more than doubled for people with asthma and is most marked for people working in farming, where the risk is more than tripled.

In the study, the researchers examined the correlation between readmission for asthma and dust exposure for 769 asthmatics working in farming or the wood industry in the years 1997-2007.

More readmissions

There were a total of 94 readmissions (4.9 per 100 person-years) for asthma among those who were exposed, while there were only 24 (1.3 per 100 person-years) among those who were not exposed. Hospitalisation could be either admittance to a hospital ward or a visit to a hospital outpatient clinic.

The results have been published in the scientific journal Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.

According to Vivi Schlünssen, the study should be followed by studies stretching over a longer period of time and with information about the severity of the diseases, as the risk of hospitalisation will depend on the severity of the asthma and COPD.

"The results of the study confirm previous studies: That asthmatics more often report that they cannot control their asthma if they work in industries with high dust exposure, compared to asthmatics who do not work in dusty environments. And work in dust is associated with a poorer prognosis for people with asthma," explains the researcher.

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Background for the results:

Type of study: Prospective cohort study.

Partners involved in the study come from: Aarhus University Hospital; Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh; Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam; Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University; Regional Hospital West Jutland; Aalborg University Hospital, and the National Research Centre for the Working Environment.

The study is financed by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund.

The scientific article can be read here: https://europepmc.org/article/med/33073852

Contact

Professor Vivi Schlünssen

Aarhus University, Department of Public Health - Section for Environment, Occupation and Health
(+45) 2899 2499
vs@ph.au.dk

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