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One-Sixth of Adult Asthma Associated with the Workplace

Update Date: Jan 22, 2013 08:08 AM EST
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For people born during the late 1950s, the workplace may be a leading cause for getting adult asthma, especially if the job is that of cleaning or involves close interaction with cleaning agents. In a recent study, it was found that of every 6 people in what is popularly known as the 'Baby Boomer' generation, one person is affected by adult asthma closely linked to the place of work of an individual.

The research was based on data of approximately 7,500 British adults born in 1958 who are participants of National Child Development Study, responsible for monitoring the long-term health of over 11,000 Brit residents.

The data from total 9,500 patients of the ages seven, 11, 16, 33 and 42 were taken, who suffered from asthma or wheezy bronchitis. Out of them, the data of 2,000 patients were excluded, as their age was less than 16. The volunteers, whose ages ranged between 33 and 42, were asked about their job history, and those aging between 42 and 45 were tested with allergen sensitivity and lung power.

Asthma Specific Job Exposure Matrix (ASJEM) was used to calculate the risk as this system the data from 18 different allergens usually linked to the workplace. It was found that out of every four persons, one is a smoker by the time they reached the age of 42. The percentage of adult asthma is 9 percent. Almost 87 percent of the volunteers were employed, out of which 55 percent had desk jobs or were limited within the office building.

It was also observed that around 25 percent of the volunteers have worked in jobs that had no risk of getting asthma. Eight percent of the 42-year-old volunteers had been exposed to a high degree of allergens and 28 percent to the low strength allergen, while 34 percent had been exposed to both.

According to the study, farmers or those linked to farming had a four time higher risk, while hairdressers had a 50 percent higher risk and printing had thrice the risk of getting adult asthma.

This research was published in the respiratory journal Thorax.

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